Australia defended bravely but fell to defeat against Spain. A late, headed goal dented hopes of early qualification for the knockout stages. For all your Olympic coverage stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic Hub and The Olympics Central
The Olyroos named an unchanged lineup from their historic win over Argentina. They faced a Spanish side who were held to a 0-0 draw with Egypt in the first round.
Following a 0-0 draw with Egypt, Spain rotated their squad to face the group leaders. They left out Real Madrid playmaker Marco Asensio as their most high-profile omission.
A combative start to the match saw Daniel Arzani fouled three times in the opening minutes. He looked dangerous early and cruised into the penalty area, but did not have the angle for a shot or pass.
Pedri tried to create early, his tight ball control and mazy dribbling keeping the Australians on edge from the beginning.
The Barcelona star stung the palms of Tom Glover with a well-struck shot but it was not enough to beat the Australian goalkeeper.
Glover was beaten seconds later when Oyarzabal found space to shoot. Luckily for the Olyroos his effort crashed off the woodwork.
Puado tried the audacious when he tried to score with a backheel from 12 yards out, but it sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Spain kept possession in their typical style and used the wings and fullbacks to test the Olyroos. Australia defended with numbers and composure for the first half.
Oyarzabal tried his luck again, but he was forced wide by his own control and could only hit the side netting.
As the half ticked to a close, Spain attempted one more attack. Cucarella raced into the box and crossed high, but the Olyroos had the numbers to clear it, albeit frantically.
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Arzani began the second half much as he did the first. His sprint through the middle of the pitch had the Spaniards backtracking but they were able to stop him, though it took all of them to do so.
Dani Olmo took a perfect touch to control a long pass and fed Oyarzabal. The Spanish captain shimmied and made space for a shot that he skied over the goal.
Some neat interplay between Marco Tilio and Mitch Duke set up Riley McGree to shoot but the opportunity was spurned and the keeper untroubled.
Pedri and Bryan Gil swapped passes to create an opening, but Predri’s shot was comfortably held by Tom Glover as Olyroos crowded the space.
Oyarzabal had looked the most likely to score all game. In the 80th minute, he broke the deadlock.
Substitute Marco Asensio received the ball in space on the right. He curled an in-swinging cross at pace towards his captain, whose flicked header sailed past Glover.
Asensio is a Champions League winner and is an example of the type of depth Spain has on the bench. The type of player a coach can bring on to change the game and it worked perfectly here.
Despite a late rally and the introduction of Nick D’Agostino, Australia could not find an equaliser.
They can still qualify for the knockout stages with a win against Egypt or a draw if other results go their way.
Goals: Mikel Oyarzabal ’80
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