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Team GB survive scare to sit on the brink of qualification

Team GB 3-1 United Arab Emirates

Team GB’s hopes of progression from the men’s Olympic competition improved after a 3-1 success over the United Arab Emirates.

Stuart Pearce’s men now sit level with Senegal in Group A, with four points from their opening two games.

A draw against Uruguay in midweek will seal progression into the knockout stages but defeat to the South Americans would spell a disappointing early elimination for the hosts.

Captain Ryan Giggs scored the only goal in the first half but his effort was cancelled out by UAE midfielder Rashed Eisa.

It was left to substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge to finish the job in the last 20 minutes, just at a point went the crowd were getting restless with an outfit that looked jaded without the fresh energy.

Welsh power

There were two changes to the starting line-up from Pearce to the side that began the 1-1 draw with Senegal at Old Trafford last week.

Bolton Wanderers striker Marvin Sordell replaced Sturridge, whilst Aaron Ramsay was preferred to Danny Rose in midfield.

The opening goal arrived in the 15th minute. Some neat build-up involving Giggs, fellow Welshman Craig Bellamy and Tom Cleverley allowed the Liverpool striker to float in a brilliant ball into the box from the left wing.

It travelled to the far post and Giggs provided the final touch to put Team GB infront.

Bellamy was at the heart of the main action and he played a part in the other main highlight of the first half.

Cleverley was very unlucky to have struck both posts after good work from the Welshman.

Unscripted

After a low key beginning to the restart, the Asians pulled level with an excellent goal of their own on the hour mark.

Eisa collected a super through ball, outpaced a slack James Tomkins and stroked the ball past Jack Butland with lots of confidence.

It was a well-worked move and against the run of play at the time, as although there weren’t many chances, Team GB had been in control upto that point.

With the game threatening to peter out into a score draw, some fresh injection was required and just 52 seconds after making his appearance from the bench for Giggs; Sinclair put Team GB back infront.

Bellamy’s end product was outstanding and he played a part in this goal too, scorching down the right and hitting a low cross into the box.

The UAE goalkeeper Ali Khaseif made a meal of the cross, leaving Sinclair with a simple tap-in from his first touch of the game.

Tension eased

Just three minutes later, the outcome was put beyond doubt by Sturridge, who replaced a disappointing Sordell at half-time.

Cleverley won possession and played in Sturridge, who showed brilliant composure to lob Ali Khaseif from the edge of the penalty area and seal the game.

The positives have to be another action-packed performance from Bellamy and Ramsay’s introduction from the start certainly gave the midfield more balance.

Senegal’s 2-0 victory over Uruguay earlier now makes them favourites to qualify from this group, especially as this result has now eliminated the UAE.

However, qualification for the quarter-finals is now firmly in Team GB’s own hands.

By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88

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