Man United pair Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo ensure Ivory Coast start their Olympics football campaign with a win as Chris Wood scores for New Zealand, France are thrashed and a strong Spain side is frustrated by Egypt
Manchester United duo Eric Bailly and Amad Diallo made a winning start to their Olympic football campaigns as the Ivory Coast defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Thursday.
Both players started the match in Yokohama with 19-year-old winger Amad providing the assist for Franck Kessie of AC Milan to score the winner in the 66th minute.
The Ivory Coast were gifted a 39th-minute lead when Saudi defender Abdulelah Alamri put through his own net, only for Salem Aldawsari to equalise just five minutes later.
Manchester United winger Amad Diallo in action as the Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2-1
United defender Eric Bailly (left) helped the Ivory Coast make a winning start at the Olympics
It was a match the Ivory Coast could ill afford to lose with Brazil and Germany also drawn alongside them in Group D and only the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals.
United defender Bailly completed the full 90 minutes in Japan while Amad, who made his debut for the Old Trafford club back in February and scored against Milan in the UEFA Europa League, was subbed off late on.
It’s Brazil up next for the Ivorians on Sunday.
19-year-old Diallo fights for the ball as the Ivory Coast started with three important points
AC Milan’s Franck Kessie (left) celebrates with Max Gradel after scoring Ivory Coast’s winner
Meanwhile, Burnley striker Chris Wood earned New Zealand their first-ever win in men’s football at the Olympics as they beat 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 an important role in securing the clean sheet.
Burnley striker Chris Wood celebrates New Zealand’s winning goal against South Korea
France suffered a dreadful start to their Olympic campaign as they were hammered 4-1 by Mexico.
It was a French side light on household names with the Olympics being an under-23 tournament and they were comprehensively second best at the Tokyo Stadium.
Diego Lainez, who’d seen a first-half effort cleared off the line, created Mexico’s opener for Alexis Vega just after half-time before Sebastian Cordova doubled their lead.
Pierre-Andre Gignac, who plays for Mexican side Tigres, halved the deficit from the penalty spot but there was no comeback by France.
Late goals by Uriel Antuna and Eduardo Aguirre sealed an emphatic win for Mexico, with hosts Japan and South Africa also in Group A.
France’s Pierre-Andre Gignac looks on in dismay as his side are beaten 4-1 by Mexico in Tokyo
Mexico forward Uriel Antuna (centre) celebrates with Alexis Vega (right) and Erick Aguirre (left) after scoring their third goal against France
Argentina were another big name shocked at the beginning of the tournament as they lost 2-0 to Australia in the Sapporo Dome.
Lachlan Wales and Marco Tilio, both based in Australia’s A-League with Western United and Melbourne City respectively, scored the goals.
In the same group, Spain were left frustrated after a goalless draw with Egypt opened their tournament.
Despite including Pedri, one of the young stars of Euro 2020, they couldn’t find a way through and their frustrations were compounded by an injury to Real Madrid’s Dani Ceballos.
It was Ceballos, who spent last season on loan at Arsenal, who came closest for Spain when he struck the post in the first-half.
Spain have a strong squad at the Olympics with Pau Torres, Eric Garcia, Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal all starting against Egypt.
Dani Ceballos was forced to limp off injured against Egypt in Spain’s Tokyo Olympics opener
The Real Madrid star’s ankle was damaged by Taher Mohamed, before it swelled up badly