Tue, Jul 31, 2012 - Page 20 News List

London 2012 Olympics: Honduras shock world champs to end bid for treble

Reuters, LONDON

Spain’s Juan Mata reacts after missing an opportunity to score against Honduras in their men’s Group D soccer match in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Spain’s bid to add the Olympic title to their World Cup and European crowns ended in acrimony on Sunday after a shock 1-0 defeat by Honduras left them unable to reach the knockout stage.

Title favorites Brazil, inspired by dazzling forward Neymar, swept into the quarter-finals after coming from behind to beat Belarus 3-1 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, with Neymar scoring and creating the other two.

They were joined in the last eight by Japan, who followed up their win over Spain on Thursday with another 1-0 victory over Morocco.

Spain hit the woodwork three times against Honduras after conceding an early goal in Newcastle, England.

A strong Spain appeal for a penalty was waved away in the final minutes and at the final whistle they surrounded the referee in an animated protest.

Spain’s under-23 team in London featured three players from the senior squad that retained their European title on July 1.

Spain coach Luis Milla, asked if the success of the senior team had put more pressure on his side, said: “Yes, it is possible that the pressure did impact on us, but this is a team full of players who compete at the highest level.”

“As coaches, we have to an analyze why we have been knocked out. We are out of the Olympic Games — but we prepared very well for it,” he said. “As you can imagine, everyone is very sad, everyone is disappointed. We worked well, we played well and put on a good show, and we still believe in the way we play and our ideology.”

Honduras lost all three group matches in Beijing four years ago, but they held on after Roger Espinoza’s cross from the left was met by Jerry Bengtson, who rose superbly above Jordi Alba to power his header past David de Gea.

“It was a tense second half. They had lots of chances and we did well to keep calm when they were threatening,” Bengtson said. “It was very hard work, but we did well to beat them.”

Hosts Britain won their first Olympic match since they last competed in Rome in 1960, playing well to outlast a spirited United Arab Emirates side 3-1 at Wembley in London.

Their opening goal came from skipper Ryan Giggs, who at 38 years and 243 days became the oldest man to appear in the Olympic soccer finals and also the oldest scorer after heading home in the 16th minute.

Britain sealed victory with late goals from substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge, and top Group A on goals scored from Senegal, who stunned Uruguay 2-0 in the first match at Wembley.

The win was even more remarkable as Senegal were reduced to 10 men when Abdoulaye Ba was red-carded for hauling down Uruguay skipper Luis Suarez after 30 minutes.

Two goals from Moussa Konate before halftime were enough to send Uruguay, back in the Olympics for the first time since their second successive gold medal in 1928, to a first ever Olympic defeat.

Brazil became the first side to qualify for the next stage and they thoroughly deserved their win over Belarus, courtesy of a header from Alexandre Pato from a Neymar cross, a long-range free-kick by Neymar and a brilliantly-taken third by Oscar, after he was set up by a back-heel from Neymar.

Brazilian-born Renan Bardini headed Belarus in front after eight minutes and although they lost they will go through if they beat Egypt tomorrow.

Egypt wasted plenty of chances in a 1-1 draw with New Zealand at Old Trafford which did neither team’s hopes of advancing much good.

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