Japan’s male soccer team managed to beat big medal favourites Spain by 1-0 at the Olympic Games in Great Britain, pulling off the first big surprise of the tournament.
Yuki Otsu scored the only goal of the game in the 34th minute, after a corner kick.
A few minutes later, Spain’s Inigo Martinez was sent off, making the equalizing mission even harder for his team. Spain’s defeat is surprising, since the team comprises players from the senior national team that won the European Championship a few weeks ago.
The players in the Olympic tournament are under the age of 23, with three exceptions allowed to every team.
“It was an important win for us. Spain are a very strong team in the group and we played well against them,” Japan defender Maya Yoshida said. “We worked really hard and we will enjoy our victory. We can get a lot of confidence from this.”
“(Japan is) a good team as well and they played as a group and they deserved to win,” Mata said. “We need to improve some things (in out next two matches) and we have to play better.”
In the second match of the group, Honduras and Morocco tied 2-2. Japan now leads the group with three points.