Olympic Soccer 2021: Japan's Win vs. Mexico; Germany's Win Tops Sunday's Results

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 25, 2021

Japan's Takefusa Kubo, right, celebrates his goal with teammates during a men's soccer match against South Africa at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

Japan is the only team in the Olympic Games men's soccer tournament with six points through two matches.

The host nation moved to the top of Group A with a 2-1 win over Mexico, putting itself in solid position to move on to the final eight of the competition. Japan still has work to do against France on Matchday 3, but it sits in the most ideal position of any side in the 16-team event.

Germany closed out Sunday's eight-game slate with a much-needed victory over Saudi Arabia. Germany navigated through a red card to defender Amos Pieper to move into third place in Group D.

Fifteen of the 16 participants could still qualify for the knockout round. Saudi Arabia was eliminated from medal contention with its loss to Germany.


Sunday Olympic Soccer Results

Group A

France 4, South Africa 3

Japan 2, Mexico 1


Group B

Honduras 3, New Zealand 2

South Korea 4, Romania 0


Group C

Argentina 1, Egypt 0

Spain 1, Australia 0


Group D

Brazil 0, Ivory Coast 0

Germany 3, Saudi Arabia 2


Japan 2, Mexico 1

Japan struck two early goals against Mexico to gain its advantage on top of Group A.

Takefusa Kubo netted his second goal of the tournament in the sixth minute to open the scoring. Kubo used a cutting run through the middle of the penalty area to create space between two Mexico defenders.

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Five minutes later, Ritsu Doan converted from the penalty spot to give the host nation a two-goal cushion.

Japan's defense held firm for most of the contest, as Mexico tried to get back into the game with a good amount of offensive pressure. El Tri put six of their eight shots on target, but they did not find the back of the net until Roberto Alvarado's goal in the 85th minute.

Japan only put three of its seven attempts on target, and it lost out 60-40 on the possession battle.

Mexico's goal could end up being important for knockout-stage qualification. Mexico has a plus-two goal differential, which is the same as Japan's record. France sits in third place in Group A with three points and a minus-two goal differential.

El Tri have the easiest game in Matchday 3 against South Africa, and they could still top the group if they outscore Japan or France.

Japan has less work to do than France to move on to the final eight. The host nation just needs a draw to advance. It could even lose by one goal and be safe because of the goal differential tiebreaker.


Germany 3, Saudi Arabia 2

Germany avoided a second consecutive disappointment by scoring down a man in the 75th minute against Saudi Arabia.

Felix Uduokhai headed home to put Germany in front just a few minutes after Pieper was given his marching orders.

Germany had a few chances to finish off the game after Uduokhai's goal, but the attempts from Ragnar Ache did not fall.

Ache and Nadiem Amiri provided the first two goals for Germany. Both tallies were answered by strikes from Sami Al-Najei.

Al-Najei equalized in the 30th and 50th minutes to keep alive Saudi Arabia's hopes of progression before Uduokhai dashed them.

Germany needs to do more work on Matchday 3 to get out of the group stage. It needs to beat Ivory Coast, which held Brazil to a scoreless draw, to move into the top two in Group D.

Brazil and Ivory Coast are tied for first place with four points. Brazil holds a slight advantage in goal differential.

Since Germany is one point back of Ivory Coast, it needs to defeat the African nation to book one of the eight quarterfinal positions.


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