The Men's Olympic soccer (or football) tournament got off to a rousing start this morning, with Japan beating tournament-favorite Spain. The first three games of the tournament are in the books, with more games being played.
In early action, the biggest result was the Japanese upset, while Honduras and Morocco played to a two-goal draw and Mexico and South Korea played a scoreless 90 minutes.
Mexico 0-0 South Korea
Japan 1-0 Spain
Honduras 2-2 Morocco
The first three games were filled with excitement, some more than others. Five goals split across the games, two red cards and a major upset got the tournament off to a wild start.
Against the tournament-favorites and world-power Spain, the Japanese team not only held on to win, but should have won by three or four more goals. Japan outshot Spain 12-6 with a 5-3 advantage of shots on goal.
Yuki Otsu got Japan on the board in the 34th minute off of a corner. In the 41st minute, Inigo Martinez was sent off for Spain purposefully stopping a goal-scoring opportunity. The sending off ended any chance Spain had of contending with Japan.
It was a huge start to Japan's Olympic campaign, not only getting a result in their toughest group match-up, but getting all three points. Both teams will look to get results against Morocco and Honduras and hopefully advance to the knockout stages.
While he didn't get on the score sheet, Kensuke Nagai was extremely problematic for the Spanish defense. His run behind the defense drew the red card and allowed Japan to play with a man advantage for just under 50 minutes.
Nagai had many opportunities to score and will certainly be disappointed in himself individually, but satisfied with the team victory. Nagai will likely have similar success against the lesser talented Honduran and Moroccan defenses.
Jerry Bengtson tallied a second-half brace to put Honduras in position for a 2-2 draw against Morocco. Bengtson scored his first goal on a rebound in the 56th minute and his second came from the penalty spot in the 65th minute. It wasn't enough to give the Hondurans a win, as they failed to capitalize on a Moroccan red card in the 72nd minute.
Bengtson, the New England Revolution forward, got his tournament off to a hot start and will need to stay on form if Honduras is to advance.
While the South Korea-Mexico matchup offered little with regard to chances, Koo Ja-Cheol was a bright spot for the Koreans. The Bundesliga player was as dangerous as can be and captained a South Korean side that looked the better of the two.
Mexico entered the tournament as a favorite to advance, so a result, even a draw, is a big step for the Koreans. They will need Ja-Cheol to not only be dangerous against the Swiss in their next match, but to also find the net and get three points.
Inigo Martinez was put in a tough spot for Spain, having to take down Kensuke Nagai to prevent a goal scoring opportunity. The red card kept the Japanese from doubling their lead, but also prevented Spain from getting anything going the rest of the match.
Martinez will miss the next game against Honduras. After the shocking loss to Japan, Spain is in the position of needing a win. They need to be better and get three points, but will have to do so without Martinez.
Zakarya Bergdich was sent off in the 71st minute for Morocco after a poor tackle. The side was lucky to hold on to a 2-2 draw.
After being the better side in the first half, Morocco was equalized in the 67th minute. The red card four minutes later prevent Morocco from getting the winner. They had their chances late, but playing a man down hurt possession.
Bergdich will miss the next match against the Japanese side that knocked off Spain. It will be a tough match for the North Africans, but with Japan and Spain left to be played, the Moroccans need to get more points somewhere.
Giovani Dos Santos may have been the biggest loser of the day, sitting on the bench for the entire match. The Mexican side lacked any attacking power and settled in and barely pulled out a draw against the South Koreans.
With Javier Hernandez out of the team, it was believed that Dos Santos would lead the Mexican attack. His creativity and quality led many to believe Mexico was a favorite.
This game was much like Dos Santos' season at Tottenham, where he suffered on the bench. If Mexico have hopes of advancing, they need to come up with something in the attack. Dos Santos needs to force his way onto the field.