Spain lose invincible tag after Olympic tournament elimination


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The Independent Online

World and European champions Spain were dumped out of the Olympic tournament by Honduras last night.

A team containing Juan Mata, David de Gea and Jordi Alba was beaten 1-0 which, following on from their equally shock reverse to Japan on Thursday, leaves them with no chance of advancing.

"It is possible that our recent success did impact, but this is a team full of players that play at the highest level," said coach Luis Milla.

"As you can imagine, everyone is sad and everyone is disappointed.

"But if you create chances, you have to score them."

Jerry Bengtson's early goal did the damage, securing one of the finest results in Honduras' entire footballing history.

Yet despite their efforts, Honduras are still not certain of their quarter-final place as Morocco could deprive them if they complete a hat-trick of Spain defeats in their final game.

It seems unlikely though after the Africans were beaten 1-0 by Japan at St James' Park, Kensuke Nagai scoring the goal that took Japan into the last eight.

Brazil are also through, although they needed to come from behind to book their quarter-final berth.

Alexandre Pato levelled Renan Bardini Bressan's surprise opener before star man Neymar and Chelsea bound Oscar wrapped up a win that should ensure an appearance at St James' Park in the knockout stage.

South Korea and Mexico took a grip on Group B by recording victories over Switzerland and Gabon respectively, although both countries need a point from their final match to reach the last eight.

In Great Britain's group, 10-man Senegal threw the entire qualification picture into confusion by beating heavyweights Uruguay thanks to a first-half Moussa Konate double.

Senegal only need a point against United Arab Emirates to eliminate either Uruguay, or hosts Great Britain, who meet at the Millennium Stadium in their final match.

Milla admitted he and his players, including Euro 2012 winners Alba, Javier Martinez and Mata, were desperately disappointed to be heading home without a medal.

He said: "If you create chances, you have to score them. If we had won the game, if we had had better results, and I am certain we would have gone on to pick up a medal in this tournament.

"We didn't talk about medals in the build-up to the tournament because we didn't want to put extra pressure on the players.

"But if we create those chances, we have to score them and I am certain that if we had scored them, we would be winning a medal at the end of the tournament."

Referee Juan Soto issued 13 yellow cards, seven of them to Spain and two during a half-time bust-up as the players left the pitch during an eventful encounter.

Milla said: "All that was lacking today was a goal. Although I don't want to mention it too much, I do feel ultimately we should have had a penalty, but the team played well."

Honduras manager Luis Suarez was thrilled by a victory which gave his side a real chance of making the last eight heading into Wednesday's final group game against the Japanese.

He said: "One thing I can say is that tonight's match was certainly not typical.

"We scored early and then perhaps due to our organisation and tactics, or perhaps due to their bad luck - there is no such thing as bad luck, necessarily, but things went our way tonight because Spain could have come back to draw or win.

"But things went our way, so we are happy, and we may well go on to qualify. But we have got to stay calm going forward into our next game. The next match is certainly going to be very, very hard."