Brazil forward Richarlison scored the first hat trick of the men’s tournament as the reigning champions weathered a late rally from Germany in a 4-2 victory at the Yokohama International Stadium.
The Japanese hosts got off to a winning start thanks to a late strike from midfielder Takefusa Kubo in a 1-0 win over South Africa, which was battling Covid-19 cases on the eve of the game of group “A”.
It was a day to forget for Sylvain Ripoll’s France who collapsed in the second half when Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Erick Aguirre scored for Mexico at the Tokyo stadium.
France, chasing a first Olympic medal since winning gold in 1984, now face an uphill battle to qualify in Group ‘A’ ahead of games against South Africa and Japan.
In their first Olympic campaign since Beijing 2008, Australia took a surprise lead over two-time gold medal-winning Argentina in 14 minutes when winger Lachlan Wales scored from close range.
Argentina’s problems escalated late in the first half when left-back Francisco Ortega was sent off after two quick yellow cards.
The South American side never quite recovered from the setback, as substitute Marco Tilio added a second for the Olyroos in the 80th minute to seal a memorable victory.
Australia lead Group “C” ahead of Egypt and Spain, who drew 0-0 in the other match in Sapporo.
Brazil, who first won gold when inspired by Neymar at home five years ago in Rio, beat Germany in a dramatic game that saw forward Richarlison score a hat-trick in the first half.
Everton’s man scored three times in the first half hour, but Matheus Cunha missed a penalty and Germany then threatened an unlikely comeback in the second half. Bayer Leverkusen’s Nadiem Amiri closed the gap before the hour mark, and although Maximilian Arnold was sent off shortly after, substitute Ragnar Ache reduced the deficit to one goal within seven minutes of the remaining 90.
But it was another Leverkusen player, Paulinho, who came off the bench and put the game to bed for Brazil in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
This gave Brazil the Group D lead over Ivory Coast, who had beaten Saudi Arabia earlier in the same stadium with a 2-1 victory for AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie. .
New Zealand got off to a successful start in Group “B” as Burnley striker Chris Wood clinched a 1-0 victory over South Korea with their 72nd-minute winner at Ibaraki Kashima Stadium where a few hundred fans were allowed as it is just outside of Tokyo and not in the same state of emergency as the capital.
Own own goal saw Romania beat Honduras 1-0 in other group game
The women’s competition kicked off on Wednesday with the surprise of the top-ranked United States by Sweden.
Posted in Dawn, July 24, 2021