Olympics 2012, Day 2: Men's Soccer Opens Group Play
Uruguay 2 (1-0), United Arab Emirates 1 (0-1)
After Ismail Matar‚Äôs 32nd minute goal, Uruguay was put back on its heels by a surprisingly strong United Arab Emirates squad looking to shock the world.
The UAE continued to mount the attack until the 42nd minute when Bologna FC star Gaston Ramirez scored on a free kick from 20 yards out to tie the match.
Although the UAE was outplayed for much of the second half, the team's performance showed that it can compete at the Olympic level and will not go down without a fight.
Great Britain 1 (0-0-1), Senegal 1 (0-0-1)
Host nation Great Britain could not keep an early lead against Senegal and was forced to settle for a draw. In the 20th minute, Craig Bellamy scored on a tremendous volley to put the Brits up early.
As the match progressed, Senegal pushed the pace and used a physical approach to throw off the British. This resulted in more opportunities for Senegal, which finally capitalized late in the match.
Moussa Konate scored the equalizer in the 82nd minute, leaving the host country empty in the win column.
Up Next for Group A: England takes on the UAE, while Uruguay faces Senegal on Sunday.
Mexico 0 (0-0-1), South Korea 0 (0-0-1)
Mexico and South Korea played to a scoreless draw in a game where both teams combined for two shots on goal. The best scoring chance of note was from Mexican substitute Raul Jimenez, who struck a header off the crossbar in extra time.
Both teams will be looking for more offensive firepower as they prepare for their second matches on Sunday.
Gabon 1 (0-0-1), Switzerland 1 (0-0-1)
Gabon, making in its first Olympic appearance, made quite a name for itself in the performance against Switzerland.
The African nation showcased its skills by winning the CAF Africa Cup of Nations U-23 Tournament against fellow Olympic qualifiers, Egypt, Morocco and Senegal.
In today‚Äôs match, Gabon fell behind in the 5th minute on a penalty shot goal by Admir Mehmedi. Then in the 45th minute, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang tied the match by converting on Alexander N'Doumbou's cross.
The Swiss started the match tremendously, breaking down the Gabon defense for much of the first half but struggled to find any offensive continuity in the second half, especially after losing Oliver Buff in the 72nd minute.
Up Next for Group B: Mexico faces Gabon, while Switzerland takes on South Korea on Sunday.
Belarus 1 (1-0), New Zealand 0 (0-1)
The magical run for Belarus continues as it capitalized on the 45th minute goal from Dmitriy Baga to defeat New Zealand.
Belarus needed to upset heavy favorite Italy in a two-legged playoff just to qualify for the European U-23 Tournament. From there, the eastern European nation snuck into the Olympic Games as the third-place finisher in the European tournament, but do not underestimate this team.
Belarus outshot New Zealand, 8-3, setting the tone early and often as the more aggressive unit. New Zealand had its opportunities, but could not finish its chances. The Oly-Whites now must depend on the most experienced Olympic Games unit to climb out from the bottom of the group.
Brazil 3 (1-0), Egypt 2 (0-1)
This game was a tale of two halves, culminating with Brazil sneaking away with the victory. In the first half, Brazil scored three goals and looked like the best team in the tournament.
The Brazilian scoring spree began in the 16th minute with a left-footed firecracker from Manchester United‚Äôs Rafael. Ten minutes later, Leandro Damiao put the ball in the back of the net, and finally in the 30th minute, Neymar struck to make the score, 3-0, heading into halftime in front of a crowd of 26,182.
In the second half, the Egyptians came out firing when Mohamed Aboutrika fired in the loose ball to cut the lead to two goals. Things got more interesting in the 76th minute when Mohamed Salah scored to trim the lead to one.
But from that point on, Brazil regained control of the match and was able to deflect any major offenses from the Egyptians. This was an entertaining match that showcased some great football from both sides.
Up Next for Group C: Belarus takes on powerhouse Brazil, while New Zealand faces Egypt on Sunday.
Honduras 2 (0-0-1), Morocco 2 (0-0-1)
In the opening match of the tournament, Morocco‚Äôs Zakaria Labyad scored the equalizer in the 67th minute to force a draw. To start off the Olympic scoring, Abdelaziz Barrada of Morocco beautifully struck a volley shot in the 39th minute.
The Moroccans then survived a Honduras assault after playing a man down after the 72nd minute when Zakarya Bergdich was booked with a red card.
Honduras must feel disappointed about not snatching three points after receiving two goals from Jerry Bengtson, a star for the New England Revolution in MLS. Both teams now sit tied for second in the group.
Japan 1 (1-0), Spain 0 (0-1)
Although Spain won Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and most recently Euro 2012 in one of the greatest runs of all time, its U-23 squad came out flat against Japan.
The Spanish passing attack was outhustled by a scrappy Japanese squad that battled all match and actually looked like the better team. The Japanese were controlling possession and finally capitalized in the 34th minute when Yuki Otsu headed in Takahiro Ogihara's corner for the only goal of the match.
The Japanese were able to fully take control of the match in the 41st minute when I√Īigo Mart√≠nez was sent off for bringing down Kensuke Nagai just outside the box. The Spanish looked shocked after the match and now face an uphill climb to reach the quarterfinals.
Up Next for Group D: Spain takes on Honduras while Group D leader Japan matches up against Morocco on Sunday.
This opening day in men‚Äôs soccer had lots of surprises, amazing goals and some exciting action. As the teams prepare for their second games on Sunday, every group is still wide open, which will make every match interesting and more importantly, noteworthy in shaping the standings.
Read more of Neon Tommy's 2012 Olympic coverage here.