OLYMPICS: Oly Whites Tracker Men's Soccer Group C Roundup - Game 2
It was another day of surprises on the second matchday at the London 2012 Olympic men’s football tournament. Although its senior team just claimed the Euro 2012 championship, Spain will not add an Olympic gold medal to its trophy cabinet as the Iberians were eliminated from the tournament after a 1-0 loss to a valiant Honduras. And in Group A, Great Britten’s 3-1 win over United Arab Emirates combined with Senegal’s shock 2-0 win over Uruguay threw the group wide open with one round of group play left.
In Group C, Brazil booked its place in the quaterfinals with a comeback, 3-1 win over Belarus, a result that kept New Zealand and Egypt’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout round alive after the two nations drew 1-1 in the groups other match at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.
New Zealand 1 vs. Egypt 1
Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson was again rested as the Oly Whites scrapped to a 1-1 draw with Egypt in their second match at London 2012. New Zealand went ahead in the 16th minute through West Bromwich Albion striker Chris Wood. Michael McGlinchey's corner found Wood at the back post with help from Tommy Smith and the West Brom forward was able to slip a shot between Pharaohs’ goalkeeper Ahmed Elshenawi.
Egypt responded in the 40th minute when Mohamed Salah knifed past his marker to tap in Mohamed Aboutrika’s cross at the far post. Although the Egyptians put 10 of their 28 shots on goal, Oly Whites goalkeeper Michael O’Keeffe was up to the challenge, making nine saves to help keep his nation’s hopes of a quaterfinal berth burning. However, it will be a tall order for the Oly Whites as they take on group-leaders Brazil in their final Group C match.
Brazil 3 vs. Belarus 1
Brazil’s star-studded lineup was forced to play from behind for the first time in the tournament as it was well tested by a confident Belarus side. Renan Bardini Bressan opened the scoring for the Europeans in the eighth minute, nodding home Aleksei Kozlov’s cross to shock a rowdy Old Trafford crowd. Brazil was unfazed by the setback; however, and proved so with three unanswered goals with the pick of the bunch being a deft, 20-yard free-kick goal by Brazilian wonderkid Neymar.
Perhaps the most sought after player in the world, Neymar had a hand in all three Seleção goals, putting in an inch-perfect cross to AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato for the equalizer before notching the go-ahead goal with his audacious free-kick and finishing things off by teeing up Oscar for his second goal in as many games.
The final round of group play will come on August 1 and as predicted Belarus, Egypt and New Zealand will all be looking to advance. Egypt and Belarus will battle it out in their final match with the Pharaohs needing a win to advance while the Belarusians need only a draw. Having already qualified for the knockout stages Brazil may be tempted to give some of its lesser known players a run out against the underdogs from New Zealand, who will undoubtedly be up for the match as they known qualification is still in the cards.
Timbers fans can continue to follow Gleeson as he and the Oly Whites prepare for Sunday’s match with the Pharaohs on Twitter (@jgleeson20) and don’t forget to send your soccer chatter with hashtags #OlyWhites & #GOJAKE.
New Zealand’s Remaining Group C Shedule:
New Zealand Men v Brazil
St James’ Park, Newcastle