OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Super subs save Team GB’s blushes
By Ben Burrows, Sportsbeat, London 2012
GREAT Britain men’s footballers survived a significant scare to put themselves in the box seat for qualification into the London 2012 quarter-finals after beating United Arab Emirates at Wembley.
COMPOSED: Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge coolly chipped in Team GB's third in front of a raucous crowd at Wembley
Goals from Ryan Giggs and super-subs Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge gave Stuart Pearce’s side a 3-1 win and the three points which puts them equal top with Senegal in Group A.
Captain Giggs settled the nerves of his side and the capacity crowd with a well-taken goal after a quarter of an hour.
The Manchester United winger gave Team GB the lead with a deft backpost header after a well-flighted cross from Craig Bellamy – who was typically lively all night.
Rashed Eisa’s cool finish jangled home nerves, but Sinclair’s first touch restored the lead before Daniel Sturridge rubber stamped the win shortly after with a sumptuous chip.
Manchester City’s Micah Richards blocked well with his head from a stinging shot as UAE kept possession and pressed well early on.
Liverpool’s Bellamy netted in Team GB’s first game, but couldn’t convert when UAE failed to deal with a Giggs set-piece.
UAE were calling for a penalty midway through the first half when Joe Allen’s careless tackle went unpunished as the referee waved away their claims.
Bellamy could – and perhaps should – have done better on 37 minutes, but side-footed straight at the keeper when put through.
Richards performed strongly at the heart of the hosts’ defence and could have helped himself to a goal but was denied by the linesman’s flag minutes later.
Just before the interval Tom Cleverley saw his clipped effort strike both posts and stay out after yet more superb play by the livewire Bellamy.
Chelsea’s Sturridge, who struggled in Team GB’s opener against Senegal on Thursday, came on for Marvin Sordell for the second half.
Sturridge, who was replaced in the starting line-up by Sordell, could have passed when given a slight opening but instead curled a tame shot into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Eisa’s finish on the hour mark stunned the crowd and the UAE fed off the change of atmosphere – striker Ahmed Kalil failing to lift the ball over Jack Butland as they threatened to snatch all three points.
Giggs left the field after 70 minutes and replacement Sinclair registered with his very first touch after capitalising on poor goalkeeping, before Sturridge’s chip six minutes later sealed the points.
Pearce’s men will go into Wednesday’s final group game against Uruguay full of confidence with a place in the last eight now a realistic aim.
© Sportsbeat 2012