Early Doors

Team GB continue to defy expectations

Early Doors

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The gold rush for Team GB finally began on Wednesday as cyclist Bradley Wiggins and rowing pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning finally gold medals won the first 2012 Olympic titles for the hosts.

Let's not dwell on whether or not two gold medals can be defined as a 'gold rush' — after all, no one else in the media seems to be.

However, both medals were won by the favourites for their respective titles.

For Team GB's footballers, however, their 1-0 win over Uruguay last night in Cardiff has seen them already exceed the expectations of many.

The victory, courtesy of Daniel Sturridge's tap-in after Swansea duo Scott Sinclair and Joe Allen combined brilliantly on the left wing, sends the Brits through to a Saturday's quarter-final against South Korea and puts Uruguay on the next plane home.

The result is not on quite the same level as the women's side beating Brazil on Tuesday night but, nonetheless, it is something many thought would be beyond Stuart Pearce's hastily thrown-together Anglo-Welsh squad before the London Games began.

Make no mistake - Uruguay were taking this tournament very seriously.

La Celeste had won the previous two Olympic football tournaments in which they had competed. They cherish those victories so much that two of the four stars on their shirt represent their back-to-back triumphs at the 1924 and 1928 Games. The other two, of course, mark their pair of World Cup victories.

The senior side became South American champions for a record 15th time last summer and were semi-finalists in South Africa the year before that. In terms of success, they've pretty much got both past and present covered.

Even now, in 2012, they are a nation of fewer 3.5 million inhabitants, making them pro rata easily the most successful football nation on earth.

And yet, here they were, with an attack comprising Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, two of the finest attacking players in the world game, going home with neither of that pair scoring either of the team's two goals in London.

Speaking of that sky-blue strike duo, quotes from each of them either side of the result are quite telling.

On the eve of the match, Cavani said: "Luis knows that the crowd might be against him, but that is the worst thing that they can do. He can punish any team in the world, but if you antagonise him you will give him more of a reason to punish you."

After the defeat at the Millennium Stadium, in which the Cardiff crowd booed him and the Uruguayan anthem as mercilessly as they had sung the British one with great volume, Suarez was not a happy bunny.

"I think they jeer me and they boo me because they must be scared of facing a player like me," he said. "They fear me, but that doesn't affect me. I'm just hurt because we lost and we are going home.

"I can take the abuse, but I think it was a total lack of respect from the crowd to boo when we were trying to sing our national anthem. I think those things should not happen."

Early Doors has clearly woken up in some parallel universe in which Suarez, ever the willing antagonist, can rightly take the moral high ground. It is highly likely that Suarez's presence and the importance of the fixture — as Stuart Pearce said afterwards, it was "a case of them or us" — played a part, but it was a bit of a shame.

As hosts of these Games, booing any anthem should not be on the agenda. It's not very Olympic, is it? But then, it is typical that football would be the sport to let the side down.

Letting the side down is something neither of Team GB's football teams have done yet, and there is now every chance both of them can turn their prospects into tangible, metallic success.

With Uruguay and Spain out, Team GB's men now have a great chance of winning a medal. Negotiate South Korea on Saturday back in Cardiff and they will face either favourites Brazil or Honduras, conquerors of Spain, in the semis. Even defeat at that point would put them into a play-off for bronze, which most fans who have invested in the Team GB football cause would have taken before the tournament began.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We are in Wales. I'm Welsh. I can't explain how proud I am right now." — Craig Bellamy sums up how he and his four compatriots have perhaps been the biggest winners from team GB's exploits thus far.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Roberto had been a world class player, but unfortunately he doesn't play anymore. Fortunately, Roberto will now take up a role to develop this club for the good of the game in the Dagestan region and the whole of Russia." — Anzhi Makhachkala manager Guus Hiddink reveals that former Brazil left-back Roberto Carlos has retired from playing, but will stay at the club in a new role. The 39-year-old also revealed that a testimonial with former club Real Madrid is in the pipeline.

COMING UP: In surely the most anticipated sporting fixture of the day, Liverpool travel to Belarus to face FK Gomel in the first leg of their Europa League third qualifying round tie. Follow live coverage at 19:00.

Meanwhile, the velodrome finally throws its doors open for its first day of Olympic action with the women's (17:59) and men's team sprint finals (18:15). At the pool, it's the second showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the men's 200, individual medley (20:19).

And, in addition to all of that, it's the first day of the second Test between England and South Africa. The action kicks off at Headingley at 11:00.

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