Men's football in Tokyo Olympics: Australia stuns Argentina, Brazil beats Germany

Mexico produced a nice display to outshine the current World No. 2 France 4-1 in a group B match as the opening round saw its second big upset.

Riley McGree of Australia attempts an overhead kick during the match against Argentina in Sapporo on Friday.

Australia sought to shake off its tag of an underdog as it defeated Argentina 2-0 and made a spectacular start to its campaign in men’s football. The Olyroos, as the Australians prefer to call themselves when turning out in the Quadrennial Games, sprung a big surprise by beating the two-time Olympic champion at Sapporo.

At Tokyo, Mexico produced a nice display to outshine the current World No. 2 France 4-1 in a group B match as the opening round saw its second big upset. At Yokohama, wily striker Richarlison scored the tournament’s first hat-trick to help defending champion Brazil prevail over last edition’s finalist Germany 4-2.

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Lachlan Wales and substitute Marco Tilo found the target once in each half for Australia in a combative action that saw ten bookings and a red card ejection in the form of Argentine defender Francisco Ortega, who was sent off just before half time. Knowing well that an aggressive approach can only unsettle the flair and form of the Copa America champion, the Olyroos took the attack route right from the start.

The Argentines were visibly unnerved as the lively Australians played a pressing game and made incursions at their box almost at will. The opening goal was a fine example of Australia’s positive approach as a long free-kick by Harry Souttar released Joel King on the flank. The Sidney FC left-back went up to essay a probing cross to leave Wales doing the finishing work quite easily. As the Argentines were reduced to 10 men near the end of the first-half the Australians looked quite assured of beating the Latin American champion. Tilo’s goal in the 80th minute was just a confirmation of the Australian dominance.

Mexico appeared to be inspired by its success in 2012 London Olympics, where it won the gold, and sought to repeat the feat when it took on two-time World champion France in group A match. The intensity and organisation that Mexico produced seemed to unsettle the French, who appeared a dishevelled lot in the face of its opposition’s determined bid. The second half produced the best of the entertainment seeing all the five goals which gave Mexico the bragging rights for its French demolition.

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Every tournament produces its star performers. The Brazilian forward Richarlison appeared to put his candidature for that honour as he produced the first hat-trick of the competition against the reputation of the German infallibility. Brazil did start like a defending champion and found the target as early as in the seventh minute when Richarlison produced the first instance of his excellent marksmanship. Richarlison, who plays as a striker for Premier League side Everton, said after that match that his team was motivated by the fact that Brazil beat Germany at the same stadium in Yokohama to win the World Cup in 2002.

Men’s football group league first round results:

Group A (Tokyo): Mexico bt France 4-1, Japan bt South Africa 1-0.

Group B (Kashima): New Zealand bt South Korea 1-0, Romania bt Honduras 1-0.

Group C (Sapporo): Egypt drew with Spain 0-0, Australia bt  Argentina 2-0.

Group D (Yokohama): Ivory Coast 2 bt Saudi Arabia 2–1, Brazil bt Germany 4-2.