SPAIN’S 21 YEAR SCORING DROUGHT COMES TO AN END IN SAPPORO

After a shocking draw against Egypt in the first match of the tournament, Spain came to this match with the obligation to win otherwise they would have to risk it all against Argentina.

On the other hand Australia came from a shocking 2-0 win against favourites Argentina, and therefore, leaders of Group C. Australia was good defensively but that couldn’t stop “La Roja” from getting a 1-0 win in the last 10 minutes of the game thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal.

The game kicked-off with an unsettled Spain and a well-organised Australia who tried to reach Unai Simon’s goal but were stopped by Eric García and Oscar Gil, the last of the two received the first yellow card of the game in the first 3 minutes of play.

After the first few minutes Spain started to feel comfortable and maintained possession calmly, trying to dismantle the Australian defence and after reaching Tom Glover’s goal various times on the 21st minute the clearest chance of the first half came when Real Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal hit the crossbar after a marvellous pass from Javi Puado.

On the 43rd minute Lachlan Wales, the man who scored the first of the two goals against Argentina, saw the first yellow card for the Aussies ending the first half on a 0-0 draw and a very low-paced first 45 minutes.

After the break the first chance of the second half came from the boots of Denis Genreau whose shot went far above Unais Simon’s goal. On the 56th minute the game’s dynamic changed when youngster Bryan Gil was subbed in for Espanyol striker Javi Puado, giving the Spanish attack freshness and speed. Spain was having more and more chances, but the goal wasn’t arriving for Luis de la Fuente’s side after three clear opportunities from Dani Olmo, Mikel Oyarzabal and Barcelona wonderkid Pedri.

After a well-constructed play, Marco Asensio crossed the ball and the man who secured Spain’s win against Croatia at the EUROS came in clutch and headed the ball into the back of Tom Glover’s net and ended a surprising 21-year drought for the Spaniards who hadn’t celebrated a goal since the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

After the goal the game made a 180 degree turn and Australia started to push Spain more and more with Nicholas D’Agostino’s impressive throw-ins that were well-defended by the Spanish defence and most importantly Unai Simon who got a hand on almost every throw-in.

After 5 minutes of extra time, Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa decided to blow the whistle and as a result Spain got the three points ending the day as leaders of their group.

Australia’s best player of the game was Manchester City player Daniel Arzani.

With his agility and pace the Spanish defence had a hard time to stop this man who was the attacking reference for the Australian side. He was substituted on the 63 minute after a very good performance trying to break down the Spanish defence.

For Spain the best player must be Bryan Gil. A very agile player with quality dribbling, his presence on the left was vital for the Spanish attack on the second half changing completely the whole dynamic of the game after coming in for Javi Puado on the 56th minute.

Australia currently sits second in Group C playing their last match against Egypt who sits last in the group. Australia must win to secure a place on the quarterfinals or could also draw and wait that Argentina loses or draws. If Australia wants to go through, they must have an attacking focused game and convert their chances against a weakened Egypt.

Spain however must either win or draw to reach the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament, they won’t have it easy as they face Argentina who has to win to go through. Spain only needs effectiveness on the last third, same thing that happened at this summer’s European championship.

ARGENTINA VS AUSTRALIA OLYMPIC REVIEW

Australia’s first-half goal from Lachlan Wales and a second in the 80th minute from the substitute Marco Tilio stunned 10-man Argentina as the Aussies seized top spot in Group C at the Tokyo Olympics.

Australia’s head coach, Graham Arnold – an Olympian at Seoul in 1988 – had promised that his team would “shock the world” and his claim delivered in the evening heat of the Sapporo Dome.

The 20-year-old Wales slotted in after Joel King’s curling low cross caught out the Argentinian defence in the 14th minute to give the Olyroos the advantage on their return to Olympic football for the first time since 2008.

Australia’s best performance at the Olympics came at Barcelona in 1992 where they finished fourth. Argentina are the current South American Under-23 champions and are two-times Olympic champions having won in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing four years later.

Australia started brightly with the Melbourne City right-back Nathaniel Atkinson running Francisco Ortega ragged.

Two yellow cards for Ortega in two minutes in added time at the end of the first half gave Australia the man advantage. First, Ortega was penalised for a foul on Atkinson, then he and Birmingham City’s Riley McGree went in the book for pushing in the box as the midfielder Denis Genreau lined up a free-kick close to the byline.

McGree went close to doubling the lead in style but his overhead kick was acrobatically saved by the Cádiz goalkeeper Jeremías Ledesma.

In the second half Australia picked up where they had left off, with Mitch Duke clipping the bar with an artistic chip 20 seconds after the restart.

Argentina were not without chances, with the Atlético Madrid defender Nehuén Pérez forcing a low save from Tom Glover with a stinging shot from distance. But despite having more of the ball (56% possession) they struggled to impose their characteristic physical and passing play, with players such as the Famalicão midfielder Carlos Valenzuela and CKSA Moscow’s Adolfo Gaich unable to carve a path through a very organised backline.

McGree, looking for a second goal to kill the game, spotted Ledesma off his line again but his effort from halfway flew narrowly over. Then McGree, played through on the right, attempted to square to Wales when he should perhaps have shot and his pass was intercepted.

Before long Australia were rewarded for their pressing and energetic play. With his first touch Tilio, the 19-year-old Melbourne City forward who was the star of their A-League grand final win, released Duke before launching into a blistering run into the box to meet the return and hammer low into the corner.

Tilio and Wales had been reserves but were promoted into squad with their expansion last week as a result of the strain the pandemic has put on players.