Senegal struck an equalizer in the final 10 minutes of Team GB’s first match for 52 years as the African side secured a well-deserved draw.
Craig Bellamy put the host nation ahead after 20 minutes with a controlled volley following Ryan Giggs’ free kick, before Moussa Konate’s neat finish ensured both teams scored a point from their opening match.
It was a game which featured several talking points, in particular the Senegalese physical and robust tackles. GB were left frustrated after Bellamy was felled in the box with the score at 1-0, only for the referee to have adjudged the tackle as a fair one.
Bellamy won and converted the free-kick which led to the opening goal as Team GB converted their first half possession into a lead. The ball was only half cleared after Steven Caulker challeneged for the first header, before Bellamy struck the ball into the ground and into the far corner.
A defence splitting pass in the second left Great Britain’s defenders in a muddle and before Konate chipped Jack Butland, as Senegal deservedly gained a point from their second half display.
There were plenty of chances for both sides in each half, particularly when Butland’s clearance fell straight to an opposing attacker, only for the keeper to recover and force Sadio Mane’s effort wide. The visitor’s had further chances with good wing play, only for their headed attempts to go well wide.
Marvin Sordell came on at half time for Daniel Sturridge and nearly provided the perfect finishing touch as the crowd urged Great Britain for one final push, but the width of the bar denied the hosts.
The obvious disappointment for Team GB was the non-penalty decision when Craig Bellamy played the ball across the box before Papa Ciss went straight through the Welshman. It was a game-changing moment as Senegal had all the moment in the second 45.
Captain Ryan Giggs felt aggrieved by some of the tackling by the Olympic debutants, a match which included 17 fouls and three yellow cards. “In a Premier League game he [Manu] would probably have been sent off three times,” said Giggs. “There were a few naughty challenges. A few of our lads are struggling now.”
Craig Bellamy and Joe Allen are both doubts for Team GB’s next match on Sunday against the United Arab Emirates.
Senegal’s coach, Aliou Cisse, insisted there was nothing wrong with his side’s approach to the game, and said: “I can’t say I saw a bad tackle on the pitch.”
“I am surprised at what people are saying, given this is Great Britain, where they talk so much about fighting spirit.”
Team GB face an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter finals following this draw, and in the day’s earlier game, Uruguay came from behind to beat UAE by two goals to one.
It was an ecstatic sell-out crowd at Old Trafford, who gave their full support to the home side.
Man of the Match: Craig Bellamy