Alexis Mac Allister made history as the first player from Brighton & Hove Albion to represent his country in the Olympics, but that was about all the good news for the Lionel Messi look-alike as the games kicked off in Japan.
For the Men’s Soccer Medals, Argentina is a heavy Favourite.
It was surprising to see them lose their first game of the tournament to Australia by a score of 2-0, given that they are the defending South American Under-23 champions and that the mood in the country is optimistic following the team’s success at the Copa America earlier this month.
The Socceroos, or Olyroos as they are now being called in Olly Murs’ honour, are competing in the Olympics for the first time since 2008.
They also had a dismal track record against Argentina, losing to the South Americans in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics.
The 2002 World Cup final between England and Argentina was played in Sapporo Dome, where David Beckham scored the game’s only goal.
Australia defeated Argentina 2-0 in a heated match that at times resembled a badly staged episode of EastEnders, with players theatrically throwing themselves to the ground at every available chance.
The job of referee Srdjan Jovanovic was difficult. A little over a minute before halftime, he had seen enough and showed two yellow cards to Argentina’s Francisco Ortega, resulting in his dismissal.
After Ortega’s Foolish Challenge, he was taken into Custody.
In the aftermath, he got into it with Riley McGree of Australia, prompting Mr. Jovanovic to send Ortega off, much to everyone’s amazement, before the subsequent free kick for his infraction a minute earlier could even be taken.
A quarter of an hour had passed when Australia took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Lachlan Wales, who redirected a cross from Joel King into the back of the net.
Marco Tilio, making his debut for the Australian Under 23s, came off the bench to score the game-winning goal and seal the victory for the Olyroos.
When Tilio got his first touch at the professional level, he sent Mitchell Duke racing down the wing. On his second touch, he connected with Duke’s back-cross and blasted a shot from the outside of the area past Jeremias Ledesma of Argentina.
It was a familiar feeling for Mac Allister, as his team, Argentina, controlled 56% of the possession but still lost.
I guess poor Mac Allister hoped that a month in the Olympics would be his ticket away from Brighton, where he has been dominating and losing every week. Not this time!
The Argentines weren’t the only Major Power to Flub the Shot.
While Brazil defeated Germany, France lost to Mexico, Spain tied with Egypt, and Richarlison channelled his inner Pele by scoring a hat trick in the first half for Brazil.
The Everton scorer therefore accomplished the remarkable distinction of scoring more goals than he had successful passes in the first half.
Aside from Mac Allister, there are other Brightons competing in the Olympics. In spite of an injury-plagued loan season with Dynamo Kiev on 2020-21, Tudor Baluta has been named in Romania’s roster.