Britain's new-found love affair
with Olympic football continued to blossom on Wednesday when they
beat Uruguay 1-0 to clinch a place in the quarter-finals of the
competition for the first time since the 1956 Melbourne Games.
Daniel Sturridge's goal on the stroke of half-time was enough
to give Britain, back in the tournament for the first time since
1960, top spot in Group A and a last eight meeting with South
Korea back at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
He slid the ball home from close range after good approach
work from Joe Allen and, although they came close to scoring
several times, Uruguay, who last competed in the Olympics when
they won their second gold in 1928, could find no response.
Their nearest effort came when Gaston Ramirez smashed the
ball against the bar with a long range shot in the fifth minute
of stoppage time.
"Today has been a fantastic day for Britain at the Olympics
winning our first golds and we are happy to play our small part
in that success this evening and delighted to get to the next
stage," Britain coach Stuart Pearce told reporters.
Uruguyan coach Oscar Tabarez lamented: "We have a fine
history in this competition from before, but it is a hard
competition to win. It is so intense. We were not at our best,
but Britain defended very well, especially their goalkeeper Jack
Britain finished top with seven points ahead of Senegal, on
five after their 1-1 draw with United Arab Emirates in Coventry.
Uruguay finished third with three points and were eliminated
along with the UAE who picked up just one point.
Britain has not competed in the Olympic football tournament
for 52 years, mainly for political reasons involving the
independent status of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland
within world governing body FIFA.
Fears that the national anthem would be booed by the Welsh
crowd came to nothing with a stirring rendition but the crowd
were hugely disappointed before kick-off when the team was
announced and Britain's skipper, Cardiff-born Ryan Giggs was not
The former Wales international, who on Sunday at the age of
38 years and 243 days became the oldest man ever to play in the
Olympic football tournament, was on the bench nursing a hamstring
injury, but in his place another Welsh veteran and over-age
player Craig Bellamy took the armband.
Britain, fielding four Welshmen in their starting line-up,
settled first, with one of that quartet, Aaron Ramsey showing
the way with a superb performance in central midfield that
tipped most of the play Britain's way.
Uruguay, though, threatened throughout and were dangerous in
the closing stages.
Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, who were expected to be
among the goals for Uruguay throughout the competition, had
another frustrating night with both high-profile club players
frustrated by the impressive young British keeper Butland.
The pair did not score a goal in three matches.
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