There was palpable scepticism in the build-up to these Games as to the extent a hastily assembled side could compete in a major finals yet Great Britain today went within touching distance of the quarter-finals after an encouraging display at Wembley.
Better Senegal's result against United Arab Emirates when facing Uruguay in Wales on Wednesday and Great Britain will win Group A.
The team is an ensemble orchestra conducted superbly by Ryan Giggs, with Craig Bellamy buzzing on the left flank, Tom Cleverley displaying increasing maturity in midfield and Aaron Ramsey making a decent fist of an unaccustomed position on the right. They found three moments of quality to defeat a talented UAE side to suggest progress is bring made at an impressive rate.
Coach Stuart Pearce had to wait until the 17th minute for Team GB to find their rhythm. Giggs jinked past two defenders on the right before squaring the ball to Tom Cleverley in a central position, 25 yards from goal. The Manchester United midfielder shunned a shooting position to feed Craig Bellamy, who delivered a sumptuous cross to the back post where Giggs headed in.
However, UAE were level on the hour mark as Great Britain's defence parted in an alarmingly similar manner as when conceding to Senegal.
James Tomkins was the culprit, faltering badly as Rashed Eisa met Omar Abdulrahman's pass to coolly beat Jack Butland from close range.
Great Britain faltered but Pearce responded with the introduction of Scott Sinclair for the tiring Giggs and the Swansea forward met Bellamy's cross to sidefoot home.
UAE barely had pause for breath before Daniel Sturridge raced clear to finish with a delightful dinked finish over goalkeeper Ali Khaseif.
Next stop Cardiff.
Earlier in the day, Moussa Konaté added to his strike against Great Britain at Old Trafford with both goals in Senegal's 2-0 defeat of Uruguay to upset the anticipated hierarchy in Group A. Senegal played for more than an hour with 10 men after Abdoulaye Ba's dismissal for cynically fouling Luis Suarez.
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