Great Britain Captain Ryan Giggs inspired his team to their first win in Group A in a superb 3-1 victory in front of a packed Wembley Stadium crowd.
Giggs opened the scoring with a precise header back across goal after a pinpoint cross from Welsh compatriot Craig Bellamy. The United Arab Emirates struck back on the hour but a double from substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge gave Team GB a huge lift as they strive for qualification to the quarter-finals.
There was some anxiety around the ground as Rashed Eisa drove into the penalty box with a great burst of speed following another defence splitting pass from midfield similar to Senegal’s equaliser last Thursday.
After a flowing pass-and-move build up, Bellamy whipped in a cross from the left and Giggs was left all alone to nod the ball into the far corner. Bellamy was again involved as his excellent cross was horrible to defend, both goalkeeper and defender failed to clear the ball, leaving Sinclair to tap home having been on less than a minute and scoring with his first touch into an empty net.
Within minutes of regaining the lead, Great Britain’s footballers doubled the gap when UAE were caught in possession and an accurate through ball from Cleverly released Sturridge, a half time substitute, who used his technical finishing ability to score a delightful chip over the goalie and into the far corner.
The lead could have been doubled on the stroke of half time when Tom Cleverly released Bellamy on the break, before the Welshman returned the pass only for the Manchester United midfielder Cleverly see his effort come back off both posts.
This was the second in a double header for the Wembley crowd, an anticipated 88,000 fans, and a record for a group stage match at the Olympic Games.
Senegal sprung a surprise to defeat Uruguay 2-0, having been reduced to 10-men earlier in the game. Two first-half goals, both from set pieces, left Group A wide open, with Senegal and Team GB joint top with four points, Uruguay with three and UAE having left the competition with their second defeat in as many games.
Man of the Match: Tom Cleverly