A hard-fought 3-1 victory over United Arab Emirates put Team GB within touching distance of the quarter-final stage of London 2012, with just a draw needed against Uruguay in their final group game required to progress.
It took late goals from substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge to seal the decisive win, after a flamboyant UAE side drew level after Ryan Giggs’ first half opener. Wembley was an anxious scene as Rashed Eisa slid in an equaliser with a composed finish, and the UAE’s slick, one-touch passing left a bewildered Team GB frantically chasing the ball. But substitute Scott Sinclair bundled the ball home a minute after coming on to the pitch, before Daniel Strurridge’s impudent chip sealed victory.
Team TB’s Welsh contingent struck again in the first half, as the diligent Craig Bellamy delivered a deep cross 20 minutes into the game, which was confidently met by captain Ryan Giggs, who guided his header past Ali Khaseif. The duo who combined to score the goal against Senegal last week had struck again.
Neat midfield interplay from the youthful trio of Joe Allen, Aaron Ramsey and Tom Cleverley produced more chances for Team GB, and the Manchester United midfielder was unlucky to see his 18-yard effort strike both posts before harmlessly rolling out of play, again after more hard work from the tireless Bellamy.
Despite GB efforts, UAE wrestled the initiative from the hosts through their incisive, short passing game in the second half, and were soon awarded for their efforts. Forward Rashed Eisa raced onto a through ball, gliding past Steven Caulker and James Tomkins to calmly slide the ball past goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Team GB were left stunned after the equaliser and left temporarily devoid of ideas, similarly to when Senegal struck in last week’s 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. As Ryan Giggs left the field for Scott Sinclair, there was little indication to where Team GB would rediscover their belief.
Luckily, the Swansea winger prodded home after more sublime wing play for Craig Bellamy to restore GB’s advantage. Minutes later, concerns were immediately abolished, after Tom Cleverley provided a perfect pass through to Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge, who expertly dinked the ball over the onrushing Khaseif to seal the victory and transform the atmosphere emanating from a relatively full Wembley.
Pre-tournament favourties Uruguay suffered a shock 2-0 defeat to Senegal, who are now level on points with Team GB. A draw against Uruguay will be enough to seal Team GB's passage to the quarter final stage.