Sturridge puts GB into last eight


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The Independent Online

Football may not be a universally welcome presence at these Olympic Games but Great Britain's men joined their female counterparts in the quarter-finals last night with a spirited display that will ensure the game gets closer to centre stage.

Just as Great Britain's women negotiated their way past fancied Latin American opposition with a hard-fought 1-0 win, Daniel Sturridge's strike was enough to dispatch Uruguay and set up a Saturday night showdown against South Korea back here at the Millennium Stadium.

The 70,438 crowd is a testament to the side's burgeoning popularity – while also a compliment to the women, who drew an attendance of 146 or so more for their victory over Brazil – and their interest was returned with a display of greater cohesion and defensive organisation, with goalkeeper Jack Butland, right, performing second-half heroics.

Although Ryan Giggs' advancing years make it necessary to manage his involvement carefully, it still registered as something of a surprise that the 38-year-old was denied the chance to lead out Great Britain in his hometown.

That said, the Welsh contingent inside the Millennium Stadium had the inviting alternative of seeing the team led out by the fellow veteran countryman Craig Bellamy, whose pre-match pleas were answered as a rendition of "God Save the Queen" thankfully passed without incident.

Further solace was taken in the stands by the chance to continue the pantomime-like booing of Uruguay's Luis Suarez, who continues to deal with the fall-out of his eight-match suspension for racially abusing the Manchester United defender Patrice Evra last October.

Sebastien Coates had a penalty appeal for handball against Joe Allen rightly waved away by the referee, Yuichi Nishimura of Japan, but the game appeared to be meandering towards half-time before Great Britain struck. Allen threaded a clever ball across the six-yard box for a predatory Sturridge to slot home.

Butland then saved Great Britain not once, but twice: Suarez outmuscled Steven Caulker, but Butland stood tall to deny him. The Liverpool striker then came back for more with a brilliant left-footed effort but Butland was equal to it.