Football at Tokyo 2020: France fights back, Japan notches up second win

France, which lost its first outing against Mexico, thus continued to stay afloat and will have to beat host Japan and hope for many collateral factors to fall in its favour.

France's Teji Savanier celebrates after scoring a goal against South Africa in Saitama on Sunday.

Reigning World Cup champion France rebounded from the brink of ejection as it managed to beat South Africa 4-3 by an added-time goal in a second round group-A match and save its knock-out qualification chances, on Sunday. Down 2-3 till the 86th minute, France was rescued by André-Pierre Gignac, who completed his hat-trick to restore parity through a penalty before Teji Savanier found the back of the net in the added-time (90+3) to secure q dramatic win for the Les Bleus.

France, which lost its first outing against Mexico, thus continued to stay afloat and will have to beat host Japan and hope for many collateral factors to fall in its favour before making it to the next stage. In the same group, host Japan picked up its second successive win to reach the top of the standings with six points and remained in the touching distance of qualifying. Japan upstaged Mexico, the team that caused a big upset thrashing France 4-1 in the first round, 2-1 riding on the two early goals scored by its Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo and play-maker Ritsu Doan.

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Defending champion Brazil, who outclassed Germany by hammering four goals in its opening win, failed to dazzle against a determined Ivory Coast in group D and had to be content with a goalless draw. The Latin American giant and the five-time World Cup winner lost midfielder Douglas Luiz to a straight red card in the 13th minute and failed to regroup from that situation.

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Spain ended a staggering 21-year wait for an Olympic goal when its winger and Real Sociedad stalwart Mikel Oyarzabal found the net late in the 81st minute against giant-killer Australia, who had downed Argentina 2-0 in the first round.

The results (round 2):

Group A (Saitama): France 4 (André-Pierre Gignac 57, 78, 86-pen, Teji Savanier 90+3) bt South Africa 3 (Kobamelo Kodisang 53, Evidence Makgopa 73, Teboho Mokoena 82), Japan 2 (Takefusa Kubo 6, Ritsu Doan 11-pen) bt Mexico 1 (Roberto Alvarado 85).

Group B (Kashima): New Zealand 2 (Liberato Cacace 10, Christopher Wood 49) lost to Honduras 3 (Luis Parma 45+1, Obregon Jr. 78, Rigoberto Rivas 87), Romania 0 lost to South Korea 4 (Marius Marin 27-og, Um Won-Sang 59, Laa Kang-In 84-pen, 90).

Group C (Sapporo): Egypt 0 lost to Argentina 1 (Facundo Medina 52), Australia 0 lost to Spain 1 (Mikel Oyarzabal 81).

Group D (Yokohama): Brazil 0 drew with Ivory Coast 0, Saudi Arabia 2 (Sami Al-Najei 30, 50) lost to Germany 3 (Nadiem Amiri 11, Ragnar Ache 43, Felix Uduokhai 75).

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