London 2012 Olympics: Ryan Giggs on target as Team GB go top with UAE win
SCOTT Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge gave watching England manager Roy Hodgson a nudge as Great Britain’s 3-1 victory over United Arab Emirates – their first Olympic win 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 UAE.
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.
Criticised for his team selection against the Africans on Thursday, Pearce made three changes, including the introduction of Aaron Ramsey, bringing the Welsh contingent to five.
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.
UAE were a sporadic threat and if Neil Taylor had not intercepted an Ahmed Khalil pass, they would have had two men racing clean through at Jack Butland at one point.
However, GB were creating most of the chances and were disappointed not to be further ahead at the break.
Daniel Sturridge replaced Marvin Sordell at half-time but GB were hit by a sucker punch on the hour as Rashed Eisa raced onto a Omar Abdulrahman pass and gleefully beat Jack Butland.
Pearce took the bold decision to replace Giggs with Sinclair and 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.
Three minutes later, GB sealed their win as Sturridge charged through, then beat Khaseif with an impudent chip from the edge of the area.
Elsewhere, there were plenty of shocks as Honduras striker Jerry Bengtson dumped Spain out of the Olympics at St James’ Park and ten-man Senegal beat favourites Uruguay 2-0 win at Wembley.
Bengtson’s seventh-minute header 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.
Meanwhile Brazil eased to a 3-1 win over Belarus.
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