30 July 2012 00:01
Spain have been dumped out of the London Olympics football competition as Great Britain proved too good for United Arab Emirates.
Honduras, though, produced the shock of the tournament as striker Jerry Bengtson fired his side to a 1-0 win over Spain at the Sports Direct Arena.
The 25-year-old’s seventh-minute header, his third goal in two games, ensured that the Spaniards, whose senior team are reigning World and European champions, will go home early following an opening defeat by Group D leaders Japan.
In an ill-tempered encounter, Iker Muniain hit the post and substitute Rodrigo the bar amid a second-half Spanish onslaught, but the Central American side battled heroically to keep Luis Milla’s star-studded side at bay.
Bengtson got the game off to a sensational start when he climbed high to power Roger Espinoza’s driven cross past Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.
Spain gradually worked their way into the game, with Chelsea’s Juan Mata smashing a left-foot volley just wide and then going even closer on the stroke of half-time.
Espinoza might have deepened Spain’s woe had his 51st-minute header not come back off the post, but Adrian Lopez hit the bar at the other end three minutes later with the Spaniards swarming all over Honduras.
Athletic Bilbao midfielder Muniain blasted just wide and then rattled the foot of the post after another enterprising run, but it took a flying save from keeper Jose Mendoza to keep out Rodrigo’s 72nd-minute header, and the striker headed against the bar eight minutes from time.
With Japan beating Morocco 1-0 through Kensuke Nagai’s 84th-minute goal, the Spaniards bow out of the Olympics, leaving Honduras and Morocco with a chance to qualify for the quarter-finals through their last group game.
Meanwhile, goals from Ryan Giggs, Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge helped Great Britain to a 3-1 victory over the UAE, sending them to the top of Group A.
After Giggs had become the oldest goalscorer in Olympic history, GB required a rather more youthful duo to drag them out of a hole after Rashed Eisa had equalised for United Arab Emirates.
Sinclair was scoring with his first touch, although it is perhaps Sturridge who has more chance of featuring in next month’s squad for the friendly against Italy in Berne, especially if he impressed Hodgson with his superb chip 14 minutes from time.
The result got GB back on track to secure a quarter-final berth, although they will almost certainly need to avoid defeat against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday to seal their knockout berth.
Great Britain opened the scoring through Giggs in the 16th minute as the Manchester United man nodded home Craig Bellamy’s incisive cross.
But UAE were good value for much of the opening half and duly equalised on the hour when Rashed Eisa latched onto a through ball and waltzed through GB’s defence before slotting past Jack Butland.
Butland then prevented UAE from taking the lead as h blocked an effort from Ahmed Khalil with hbis legs before substitute Sinclair, on the field for just a minute, gave GB the lead once again when he scored from another Bellamy cross in the 73rd minute.
And Sturridge wrapped up the win when he added the third three minutes later.
In the other Group A match, a double from Moussa Konate gave 10-man Senegal a 2-0 win over Uruguay, with Konate now having scored three goals so far in two Olympic matches.
Group B saw Giovanni Dos Santos score twice in a 2-0 win for Mexico over Gabon that takes them to the top of the table, narrowly above South Korea on goal difference after they produced a 2-1 win over Switzerland.
New Zealand, meanwhile, remain winless in Group C after a 1-1 draw with Egypt after Mohamed Salah’s 40th-minute goal cancelled out Chris Wood’s opener for the Kiwis in the 17th minute.
Brazil, though, is well out in front in Group C after a convincing 3-1 win over Belarus.