GB forced to settle for a draw after Konaté's late strike


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The Independent Online

There are consolations, such as the fact that no member of Stuart Pearce's Great Britain side have been done lasting harm by their collision course with a side who ranged from uncompromising to dangerous. But the size of the challenge facing the new team of British nations was clear last night, when Senegal punctured the prospect of an opening win, with a mere eight minutes to play.

Pearce had grounds to feel he was owed a penalty, for a challenge on Craig Bellamy late in the game, but the West African opposition, ranked 61 in the world, had threatened enough after a first half in which they were sinking, to feel they had earned their point.

It was the first British side to take to a football field for 52 years, so a few identity problems were inevitable. What to call them, for instance? Team GB appears to be the protocol, but for the stadium announcer they were Team Great Britain and for the scoreboard, just Great Britain. The togetherness hadn't entirely been helped when Joe Allen, who is most definitely Welsh, was described as English in the match programme.

Ryan Giggs' exhortations to his team-mates after the anthems revealed this meant something to him and it was his left boot that unravelled the 20th minute free kick into the penalty area which broke the deadlock.

Senegal could only nod down for Bellamy to pause, in several square yards of penalty area space, eye up the bottom left-hand corner of the goal in front of him, and thump in a half volley. It was a goal made in Wales and a piece of history well deserved by Bellamy – who took his place as the first Olympic goalscorer for Great Britain since Patrick Hasty, a Northern Irishman of Tooting & Micham, whose goal secured the consolation of a win against the Republic of China at the Italian Olympics of 1960.

But with eight minutes left to play, Mane's ball from the right caught the Great Britain defence flat and Moussa Konaté stepped up to meet it and then dispatch it past the advancing Jack Butland.