Team GB see off UAE challenge
July 29, 2012 22:07 pm
Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge gave watching England manager Roy Hodgson a nudge as Great Britain's 3-1 win over the United Arab Emirates - their first Olympic victory since 1960 - sent them top of Group A.
After Ryan 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. Surprisingly, the last eight won't feature Spain after the European and World champions were dumped out following a 1-0 loss to Honduras.
As against Senegal, GB's opener was crafted in the Valleys. This time, after Giggs had fed Tom Cleverley and continued motoring into the box, the roles were reversed as Craig Bellamy provided the cross and the veteran Manchester United man rose unopposed to nod home.
Ali Khaseif denied Bellamy and then saved his side when some quick thinking by Aaron Ramsey presented Cleverley with a chance inside the six-yard box. Cleverley then managed to strike both posts after meeting a Bellamy cut-back with a precise first-time finish.
It was the kind of fluency Stuart Pearce had promised would eventually come to a squad given the briefest amount of preparation time compared to almost all the teams in this tournament. The introduction of Sturridge for Marvin Sordell at half-time replicated a move in reverse that Pearce had done at Old Trafford.
Sturridge almost made the desired impact too after being set up by Ramsey, only for Khaseif to block his angled shot. The Chelsea striker failed to take another opportunity before GB were hit by a sucker punch on the hour as Rashed Eisa took advantage of the kind of defensive slackness that proved so costly against Senegal.
This time it was Omar Abdulrahman that sent a pass straight into the space Neil Taylor and James Tomkins should have been filling between then. Eisa raced onto it and gleefully beat Jack Butland. The goal turned what should have been a routine win into a nervy search for salvation.
From offering virtually no threat, suddenly every UAE attack had menace. Butland was the hero, standing up to Khalil when he received Abdulrahman's excellent return pass, and making a vital block before Micah Richards cleared. As Hodgson watched on, Pearce took the bold decision to replace Giggs with Sinclair.
It turned out to be a masterstroke. With his first touch, Sinclair was on hand to tap home as a Bellamy cross created panic in the UAE box, Khaseif succeeding only in pushing it straight to the Swansea man, who tapped into an empty net. Three minutes later, GB sealed their win as Sturridge charged through, then beat Khaseif with an impudent chip from the edge of the area.
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