Team GB draw Olympic opener
by Zarif Rasul
Team GB 1-1 Senegal
London 2012 Olympic Games
8pm, Thursday 26 July 2012
Live on BBC1
Team GB could not replicate the feat of their female counterparts as their first Olympic Games clash in 52 years ended in a 1-1 draw against Senegal.
Craig Bellamy, one of Stuart Pearce’s three overage players, seemed to have handed Team GB a match-winning start to their Group A campaign, but Moussa Konate’s late goal ensured the African side earned a share of the spoils.
And the hosts were desperately unlucky not to snatch all three points at the death as substitute Marvin Sordell’s side-footed close-range effort struck the bar with the goalkeeper beaten.
Despite being backed by a sell-out crowd at Old Trafford, Team GB failed to settle in the opening exchanges, as Senegal probed the British backline. But despite a disjointed start, Great Britain took the lead against the run of play in the 20th minute.
Steven Caulker diverted Ryan Giggs’ well-flighted free-kick into the path of the unmarked Craig Bellamy, who calmly guided the ball into the far corner of the net from ten yards out.
The 33-year-old’s strike meant he became the first player to score for Great Britain at an Olympic Games since Patrick Hasty against China in 1960.
Britain’s breakthrough buoyed the visitors, and the lively Mane was left ruing his profligacy after spurning a fantastic chance six minutes later.
Jack Butland’s poor clearance fell to the Metz striker, but his scooped effort landed just wide of the post, much to the relief of the Birmingham City goalkeeper.
And Mane again managed to find his way behind the defence shortly afterwards, but Micah Richards produced a great recovery tackle to thwart the Senegal forward.
Senegal continued where they left off after the break, as Osasuna winger Ibrahima Balde’s first-time drive drew a good save from Butland, before Saliou Ciss’s fierce long-range effort forced the Birmingham stopper to punch the ball out for a corner. From the resulting set-piece Abdoulaye Ba came close to levelling the score, but his goalbound header was nodded away to safety by Danny Rose.
Senegal were fortunate not to concede a penalty after Bellamy was hacked down by Saliou Ciss on the edge of the box, but the visitors were rewarded for their determination and initiative ten minutes from time as Moussa Konate grabbed a deserved equaliser.
The Maccabi Tel-Aviv forward latched onto Mane’s perfectly angled pass, before expertly clipping the ball beyond the advancing Butland.
And the drama continued, but unfortunately for Team GB Sordell could not turn one point into three, as he smashed the ball onto the crossbar after good work from Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey.