London 2012: Sturridge goal sees Team GB through to men’s football quarter-finals
Olympic Games footbal Group A: Team GB 1 Uruguay 0
Team GB men’s team booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games football tournament courtesy of a narrow victory against Uruguay in Cardiff.
Daniel Sturridge’s strike late in the first half was enough for Stuart Pearce’s men to progress to the next round, where they will meet Korea back in Wales on Saturday evening.
It was the host nation that started the stronger of the two sides, as Scott Sinclair failed to properly connect with stand-in captain Craig Bellamy’s right-wing cross.
However, despite being under pressure, Uruguay had the next chance of the game as Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates headed over from a free-kick.
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The impressive Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey then saw a cross-come-shot roll narrowly wide, before Uruguay had a penalty appeal turned down when a header was blocked by Swansea’s Joe Allen, with replays clearly showing the ball hit his chest, not his hand.
However, just as the teams looked like going in all square at the break, Team GB took the lead with 20 seconds of stoppage time remaining.
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Sinclair fed Allen inside the penalty area, and the Wales international then turned his man before sliding a ball across goal for Sturridge to tap home from two yards, sending the host nation in ahead at the break.
Team GB began the second half in the same manner as they had ended the first, with Sturridge somehow managing to miss from one yard out and hit the post, although the Chelsea man was later adjudged to have been in an offside position.
The ever-present Ramsey then tested Martin Campana with a long-range drive, before the quiet Luis Suarez should have drawn his country level.
Breaking down the right-hand side before cutting into the area, the Liverpool striker had just Jack Butland to beat, but the Birmingham City keeper stood tall and got a strong hand to the ball, before the defence cleared the danger.
Sturridge was the next to breach the Uruguay rearguard as he broke the offside trap, but Campana saved well from a tight angle.
The second half proved to be a much livelier affair than the first, and Suarez forced another good save from Butland, with Edinson Cavani steering the rebound into the side-netting with 25 minutes left to play.
Uruguay upped their intensity for the remainder of the game with the realisation that they would be heading out of the Games if they were defeated.
Team GB almost doubled their lead with five minutes left when they broke from their own area, Sturridge beating his man before seeing a curled effort tipped behind for a corner by Campana.
However, it was Uruguay who gave the hosts a scare in the dying stages, as Gaston Ramirez rattled the crossbar with Butland beaten, before the Birmingham keeper made amends with the final action of the game, saving well from Suarez’s free-kick.
Team GB: Butland, Richards, Taylor, Caulker, Bertrand, Cleverly, Allen, Ramsey, Sinclair (Cork, 90), Bellamy (c), (Rose, 78), Sturridge. Subs not used: Steele, Dawson, Giggs, Tomkins, Sordell.
Uruguay: Campana, Arias, Coates, Rolin, Ramirez, Aguirregaray, Rodriguez, Viudez (Lodeiro, 59), Arevalo Rios, Suarez, Cavani. Subs not used: Gelpi, Polenta, Albin, Calzada, Hernandez, Urreta.