SENEGAL SPOILED GREAT Britain’s long-awaited return to Olympic football on Thursday, snatching a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw in a bruising encounter at Old Trafford.
Moussa Konate’s 82nd minute leveller prevented Britain from making a winning start to their first appearance in an Olympic football tournament for 52 years after Craig Bellamy had fired the hosts into the lead.
Britain almost grabbed a late winner when substitute Marvin Sordell struck the woodwork two minutes from time, but Senegal held on for a share of the points after a physical Group A tussle.
It was a frustrating outcome for the hosts, who should have been awarded a penalty in the 70th minute after goalscorer Bellamy was clattered in the area in an atrocious challenge by Senegal defender Saliou Ciss.
After a slow start, Britain had taken the lead midway through the first half with captain Ryan Giggs and Bellamy combining to score.
Manchester United star Giggs, who at the age of 38 became the oldest man to play in the Olympic football competition, swung in a free-kick from the right. Steven Caulker’s aerial challenge caused confusion in the Senegal box, and the ball fell kindly for Bellamy who drove an angled shot beyond Ousmane Mane.
Senegal should have equalised shortly afterwards however when a horrendous mistake from Jack Butland let in Sadio Mane.
Butland’s mis-hit clearance went straight to Mane near the edge of the area, but the Senegal striker’s chipped effort drifted disappointingly wide to spare the British goalkeeper’s blushes.
An open second half saw both sides carve out promising opportunities but Senegal were fortunate to finish with 11 men after some uncompromising challenges went unpunished by Ravshan Irmatov.
Meanwhile, star-studded Brazil survived a second-half fightback by Egypt to win their men’s Olympic football opener 3-2 in Cardiff on Thursday.
Goals from Manchester United’s Rafael Da Silva, Leandro Damiao and sought-after Santos forward Neymar put Brazil 3-0 up and cruising at the break as an easy win beckoned.
But Egypt captain Mohamed Aboutrika and second-half substitute Mohamed Salah’s strikes ensured a tense finish for the five-time world champions, who are seeking their first Olympic title.
The influential Neymar set up Brazil’s opener on 16 minutes with a defence-splitting ball to Rafael, who squeezed his shot home from inside the box.
Damiao was on target on 26 minutes when Neymar, punishing defensive weakness on a long ball forwards, cut back for the Internacional forward to hammer his shot home from near the penalty spot.
And Neymar started and finished a move on the half-hour when he dribbled across the defence, picked out Hulk on the left and then powered a close-range header through the arms of Egypt ‘keeper Ahmed Elshenawi.
A samba atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium faded when Aboutrika pulled one back from a goalmouth scramble, before Salah shot home with 14 minutes to go. But the Egyptians were unable to find the equaliser.
Results in full:
Group A: UAE 1 Uruguay 2, Great Britain 1 Senegal 1.
Group B: Mexico 0 South Korea 0, Switzerland 1 Gabon 1.
Group C: Belarus 1 New Zealand 0, Brazil 3 Egypt 2.
Group D: Honduras 2 Morocco 2, Spain 0 Japan 1.