Sunday saw the second matchday of the men’s Olympic soccer tournament. Still in group play, we nevertheless are beginning to see who are the stars of the tournament. Plus, Spain’s going home early.
World champions done
Spain 0:1 Honduras — Thursday’s loss to Japan was a shock, but Spain was still favored against Honduras, the team in the tournament at the expense of the U.S. In the end, though, while there’s one game left to play in the group stage, Spain is out of the competition after suffering a second straight 1-0 defeat. To their credit, the Spaniards were much improved, and created enough chances to win the game, but again could not find their shooting boots. The Hondurans, however, took their first chance, with a cross in the seventh minute finding the head of Jerry Bengtson, who got to the ball over one of the stars of the European Championships, Jordi Alba. Spain will not be too discouraged by their exit, as most of the senior team were not involved, but with such a wealth of footballing talent coming out of Spain, this turn of events is a real surprise.
Young stars shining
Mexico 2:0 Gabon — Giovani dos Santos plays his club football for Tottenham Hotspur in England’s Premier League, after coming up through la Masia, Barcelona’s famed youth academy. Having starred for the Mexican youth national team in the 2005 Under-17 Youth World Cup and the 2007 Under-20 World Cup, his 2008 move was heralded by Spurs fans, but in the time since, he has absolutely failed to live up to expectations—in club football. In international matches, he has continued to show his class, and he scored both goals in Sunday’s game, and only after coming on as a second-half substitute. Whether or not he ever translates his international form to club football, he’s certainly a player to keep an eye on as this tournament progresses, and with the win, Mexico is in good position to move on.
Brazil 3:1 Belarus — Brazil’s defense showed its cracks again against Belarus, letting in the opening goal on eight minutes, but with Neymar in the side, it may not matter. The young Brazilian scored one and made two, and Brazil qualified for the quarterfinals behind his brilliant play, looking more and more like the team to beat. No one anywhere should be surprised that Neymar is a good—maybe great—player, but the international game is where legends are made, and Neymar seems intent on writing his own.
- Great Britain 3:1 UAE — Team Great Britain beat the UAE 3-1 to move top of their group, and are in good position to move on to the quarterfinals.
- Japan 1:0 Morocco — Japan moved on to the quarterfinals courtesy of a late goal from Kensuke Nagai.
- Senegal 2:0 Uruguay — Moussa Konate scored his second and third goals of the tournament, and Senegal upset Uruguay, even after going down to ten men.
- Korea Republic 2:1 Switzerland — South Korea top their group, with Mexico, and need only a point against Gabon on Wednesday to move on.
- Egypt 1:1 New Zealand — A draw helped neither side, and both look to have an uphill battle to move on.
The group stage games conclude on Wednesday, August 1. Watch the games live online on NBC Live Extra:
- 9:30am — Brazil v. New Zealand
- 9:30am — Egypt v. Belarus
- 12:00pm — Mexico v. Switzerland
- 12:00pm — Korea Republic v. Gabon
- 12:00pm — Japan v. Honduras
- 12:00pm — Spain v. Morocco
- 2:45pm — Great Britain v. Uruguay
- 2:45pm — Senegal v. UAE