Great Britain secured a vital win in their pursuit of Olympic gold as they claimed a 3-1 win over United Arab Emirates.
Stuart Pearce shifted things around in his starting 11 and Micah found himself in his more natural position of right-back, whilst Marvin Sordell started up front. Micah was called into action early on to head away a goal-bound shot, whilst a goalmouth scramble following Ryan Giggs’ free-kick was eventually cleared.
Nerves were soon settled as Stuart Pearce’s men grabbed the opening goal of the game. Craig Bellamy swung in an inch-perfect cross which Giggs met at the back post to direct home and make it 1-0 with 15 minutes on the clock, and a Bellamy shot soon after was tipped round the post.
A fine charge forward by Micah saw him brought down, and from the quickfire free-kick that followed, Bellamy almost caught the defence out only for his shot to be parried behind. With just a minute of normal time left in the first-half, Tom Cleverley beat the keeper but not the posts as his shot rebounded off both sides of the woodwork before bouncing clear.
Daniel Sturridge was introduced at the break for Sordell, who had a lively first-half, as Pearce’s side looked to hold on to their lead. There was, however, a warning sign in the opening minutes of the second half when Ahmed Khalil struck the outside of the post with a fierce shot.
If that was a let off, there wasn’t to be a repeat moments later as UAE got themselves back in the game. Great Britain’s defence was sliced wide open and Rashed Eisa raced clear to slot home and make it 1-1.
The home favourites were on the ropes and UAE looked to take avantage, Jack Butland being forced into two fine quick-fire saves minutes after the equaliser, encouraging Pearce to change things up and bring off Giggs for Swansea’s Scott Sinclair.
Giggs didn’t look particularly happy, but the change paid off instantly as Sinclair grabbed a goal. Bellamy fired in the cross and though it was missed by Sturridge, Sinclair was there to tap home to reinstate Great Britain’s advantage.
With the wind knocked out of their opponents’ sails, Great Britain grabbed a third in a display of counter-attacking football at its best. Bellamy picked up the ball and played a delicious ball to Sturridge, who lobbed the keeper with an exquisite chip to make it 3-1.
There were to be no further twists or turns as Great Britain closed out the game, and they’ve given themselves a fine chance of progressing as they enter the final game with Uruguay.
United Arab Emirates: Ali Khaseif, Hussain, Ahmad, Al Kamali, Amer Abdulrahman, Esmaeel, Sanqour, Omar Abdulrahman, Rashed Eisa, Matar, Khalil. Subs: Khalid Eisa, Surour, Al Amri, Al Hammadi, Ali, Fardan, Fawzi.
Great Britain: Butland, Taylor, Caulker, Tomkins, Richards, Cleverley, Allen, Giggs, Ramsey, Bellamy, Sordell. Subs: Steele, Bertrand, Rose, Dawson, Sturridge, Cork, Sinclair.
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