United pair Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo ensure Côte d’Ivoire kick off their Olympic football campaign with a win, as Chris Wood scores for New Zealand, France is thrashed and a strong Spain team frustrated by Egypt
Manchester United duo Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo got off to a winning start to their Olympic football campaigns as Côte d’Ivoire defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Thursday.
Both players started the game in Yokohama with 19-year-old winger Amad providing the assist to AC Milan’s Franck Kessie to score the winner in the 66th minute.
Côte d’Ivoire got a 39-minute lead when Saudi defender Abdulelah Alamri shot through his own net, but just five minutes later Salem Aldawsari equalized.
Manchester United winger Amad Diallo in action as Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2-1
United defender Eric Bailly (left) helped Côte d’Ivoire to a winning start at the Olympics
It was a match Côte d’Ivoire could not afford to lose with Brazil and Germany also next to them in Group D with only the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals.
United defender Bailly played the full 90 minutes in Japan, while Amad, who made his debut for the Old Trafford club in February and scored against Milan in the UEFA Europa League, was eliminated late.
On Sunday it is Brazil’s turn for the Ivorians.
19-year-old Diallo fights for the ball as Ivory Coast started with three key points
AC Milan’s Franck Kessie (left) celebrates with Max Gradel after scoring the Ivory Coast winner
Meanwhile, Burnley striker Chris Wood gave New Zealand their first-ever win in men’s football at the Olympics by beating South Korea 1-0.
Wood tapped in from close range 20 minutes from time to settle the Group B game in Kashima, with West Ham defender Winston Reid playing a key role in securing the clean sheet.
Burnley striker Chris Wood celebrates New Zealand’s winning goal against South Korea
France got off to a terrible start to their Olympic campaign when they were hammered 4-1 by Mexico.
It was a French bright spot for household names, as the Olympics were an under-23 tournament and they were the second best at Tokyo Stadium.
Diego Lainez, who had seen a first-half attempt go off the line, created Mexico’s opener for Alexis Vega just after halftime before Sebastian Cordova doubled their lead.
Pierre-Andre Gignac, who plays for Mexican Tigres, halved the deficit from the penalty spot, but there was no comeback from France.
Late goals from Uriel Antuna and Eduardo Aguirre sealed an emphatic victory for Mexico, with hosts Japan and South Africa also in Group A.
France’s Pierre-Andre Gignac looks on in horror as his side is beaten 4-1 by Mexico in Tokyo in
Mexico forward Uriel Antuna (center) celebrates with Alexis Vega (right) and Erick Aguirre (left) after their third goal against France
Spain, meanwhile, was left frustrated after a goalless draw against Egypt opened their tournament.
Despite taking Pedri, one of the young stars of Euro 2020, with them, they could not find a way out and their frustrations were exacerbated by an injury to Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos.
It was Ceballos, on loan to Arsenal last season, who came closest to Spain when he hit the post in the first half.
Spain has a strong squad at the Olympics with Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal all starting against Egypt.
Dani Ceballos had to walk away injured against Egypt in the Spanish opener Olympics in Tokyo
The Real Madrid star’s ankle was damaged by Taher Mohamed before becoming very swollen