OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Senegal strike late as Team GB's pay the price for wastefulness
A LATE Moussa Konate goal cancelled out Craig Bellamy’s first-half strike to give Senegal a share of the spoils in Great Brtiain’s opening match in the Olympic football tournament.
DISAPPOINTED: Ryan Giggs was instrumental for Great Britain but they were held 1-1 by Senegal at Old Trafford
Stuart Pearce's side made history as the first British men's football team to compete at the Games since 1960 but they failed to deliver the expected three points in only their second game as a team.
Bellamy put the hosts ahead with his first ever goal in an international tournament but limped off before Konate’s late finish stunned those watching at Old Trafford.
A 72,176 crowd tried to urge Stuart Pearce’s men on in a physical and often almost brutal game, but Team GB had to settle for a point.
A quiet crowd came to life when on 20 minutes when Liverpool’s Bellamy, booed just minutes before, put Team GB ahead with a clinical strike from 12 yards out.
The Welshman fired his shot into the ground and past Ousmane Mane’s despairing dive after Senegal failed to clear Ryan Giggs’s floated free kick.
Senegal spurned a glorious chance to equalise six minutes later after Birmingham City keeper Jack Butland’s poor kick went straight to Metz’s Sadio Mane, but he shot wide.
The same man was through again on the half hour but Micah Richards recovered well and his tackle rebounded off Mane’s shin and away to safety.
Senegal picked up the first caution of the night on 36 minutes – Lille’s Pape Souare with a dangerous tackle on Swansea’s Neil Taylor, but the Uzbekistan referee showed leniency.
Daniel Sturridge, who was a doubt for the Games with viral meningitis, showed his lack of sharpness five minutes before the break when he failed to hit the target from Giggs’ quickly taken free kick.
Butland – given dispensation to play after being part of England’s Euro 2012 squad – atoned for his earlier error with a solid stop from Ibrahima Balde’s drive at his near post on 48 minutes.
The 19-year-old, who was the subject of a reported £6m bid from Premier League newcomers Southampton, made a comfortable stop on 55 minutes, while Danny Rose was on hand to clear Abdoulaye Ba’s firm header off the line from the corner.
Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, on for fellow Welshman Joe Allen, set up Rose on 65 minutes, but Mane was sharp to punch away the cross away to safety.
Tensions boiled over towards the end of the second half when Saliou Ciss clattered into Bellamy inside the box, leaving him in agony on the floor and Taylor running to remonstrate with the Senegalese players.
Though the former Manchester City and Cardiff striker tried to limp on, he exited the pitch with ten minutes left to an unlikely standing ovation – replaced by Southampton’s Jack Cork.
Senegal grabbed an equaliser out of nothing on 83 minutes when Mane’s perfectly weighted through ball picked out Konate and he calmly finished past Butland.
Marvin Sordell nearly put Great Britain back in front on 88 minutes, but he smashed Ramsey’s cross against Senegal’s crossbar from 12 yards out.
Great Britain pushed for all three points as time ran out, leaving Pearce with much to think about ahead of Sunday’s crucial clash with the United Arab Emirates at Wembley.
© Sportsbeat 2012