Senegal ties Britain 1-1 in Olympic soccer
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By CHRIS BRUMMITT,
Updated July 26, 2012
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Moussa Konate scored late in the second half to lift Senegal to a 1-1 tie against host Britain in Olympic soccer Thursday.
Playing in its first Olympic competition since 1960, Britain faded after Craig Bellamy scored in the first half. The Welshman pounced on Ryan Giggs' free kick into the box, driving a shot into the ground that bounced to the left of keeper Ousmane Mane.
Senegal's best chance in the first half came six minutes later, when British keeper Jack Butland sent a clearing attempt into the path of Sadio Mane. But the striker chipped high and wide.
Senegal's players, most of whom play in European leagues, fared better after the break.
Ibrahima Balde tried to tie it two minutes into the half with a low shot, but Butland got a hand to it and turned the ball past the post. Butland responded again in the 55th minute, tipping Saliou Ciss' attempt over the goal, and Britain defender Danny Rose was there to head away Papa Gueye's header on the resulting corner.
Konate's goal came in the 81st minute as Britain was hoping to hold out for a scrappy victory. The striker, who plays for Israel's Maccabi Tel-Aviv, ran on to a through ball that exposed Britain's defense fragility before chipping Butland from close range.
Britain substitute Marvin Sordell hit the bar from close range in a frantic final few minutes. Konate could have scored a second time, but his shot went wide.
"The fact that we got our noses in front and didn't go on to nail the game was a frustration," said coach Stuart Pearce. "We've got another tough game Sunday, the group looks like it might be wide open."
Britain plays United Arab Emirates, which earlier lost against Uruguay, on Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
Britain felt it should have had a penalty before the tie after Ciss clattered into Bellamy on the edge of the box.
"You could see that it was inside the box and that's why I was so angry," said Neil Taylor. "You could end someone's career in a flash like that."
The match was played in front of a near capacity crowd at Old Trafford, most of whom had never seen a British soccer team take the field in a major competition.
The country's English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish soccer associations had previously resisted the idea of a British team, fearing it could jeopardize their independence within global soccer. Given that Britain is hosting the games, they agreed to field a team this time around, though only Welsh and English players are represented.
One goof: The match program incorrectly listed Welshman Joe Allen as English. And critics on Twitter noticed that the Welsh players, Giggs included, did not appear to be singing the national anthem ahead of the match.
"Some enjoy singing, some don't," Pearce said. "It's fine with me."