Japan produced a major shock in mens Olympic football on Thursday,beating medal favorites Spain 1-0. Japan forward Yuki Otsu broke away from his marker during a corner in the 34th minute and the ball landed right at his feet for a simple tap-in past Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
Spain started the match brightly with good build-up play and quick passing in the first 20 minutes,but they couldnt break through a solid Japan defense and didnt have a meaningful shot on goal.
It wasnt only Japans back line that was troubling the Spaniards. Japan forward Kensuke Nagai caused major problems for them throughout the match,slipping behind defenders with quick runs. Spain center back Inigo Martinez was sent off in the first half for a foul while trying to stop Nagai from scoring.
Japan took advantage of the extra man in the second period and the match could have been a rout had the finishing been more accurate. Nagai continued to trouble the defense,shaving the post in the 58th minute.
The loss is a huge blow for Spain,touted as one of the favorites to win the tournament,with the under-23 team aiming to win Olympic gold to add to the World Cup and European Championship titles held by the countrys full national team. However,the defeat will not eliminate the side. The senior side lost its first group stage match to Switzerland at the 2010 World Cup but went on to win the tournament.
South Korea,Mexico draw
In another match of the day,South Korea wasted a number of scoring chances against Mexico as the two teams opened Group B at the Olympics with a 0-0 draw. With forward Giovani Dos Santos on the bench from the start,Mexico showed little promise of being a medal contender as its opponent dominated at St. James Park.
Both teams struggled to find their rhythm on the slippery turf,but the tempo picked up in the second half,which saw more scoring occasions.
In a Group B match,Gabon rallied from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw against Switzerland in its Olympics debut at St. James Park. A late goal gave Uruguay a 2-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates Thursday in a Group A encounter.