The first round of group stage matches of the Men’s Olympics Football tournament have now been completed, with the eight games played producing 31 goals.
Three of those goals were scored by attackers who play for the North London rivals, Arsenal and Tottenham, whilst another three other English Premier League based players featured in the competition’s opening set of fixtures.
Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry scored for Germany in their 2-2 draw against Mexico after coming on as a first half substitute, whilst the 21-year-old’s club mate Takumo Asano found the net for Japan, as they lost 5-4 to Nigeria, who were captained by Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel.
Aside from Japan against Nigeria, the game in which the most goals were scored was Fiji’s encounter with South Korea. Despite only leading 1-0 at half time, the South Koreans ran out 8-0 winners, as Tottenham’s Son Heung Min confidently scored a penalty kick.
Whereas the former Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen striker successfully opened his goal scoring account for the tournament, Manchester City’s new Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, who the club have just signed from Palmeiras for a fee in the region of £27m, was unable to as the hosts drew their first game 0-0 against South Africa.
Despite creating an abundance of chances, Brazil were frustrated in their efforts to score, with Jesus guilty of a glaring miss from just two yards. The 19-year-old has been loaned back to Palmeiras until January, which will create a great deal of anticipation among Manchester City’s supporters about his first appearance for the club.
Whilst Jesus endured a disappointing Olympic debut, Liverpool’s Tiago Llori did not, as the 23-year-old central defender made a substitute appearance in Portugal’s 2-0 win over Argentina.
Although Llori has now been with Liverpool since September 2013 and spent last season on loan at Aston Villa, the former Sporting Lisbon player is yet to make his Premier League debut.
Nevertheless he will enhance his prospects of doing so by showcasing his strong defensive talent in the Olympic Football tournament, which will continue on Sunday – 7 August – when the second set of group stage matches are to take place.
The highest profile of those is to be Germany’s game against South Korea, whilst Gabriel Jesus will look to produce an improved performance for Brazil to help them secure their first win of the competition against Iraq.
Ultimately the Olympics Football Tournament represents a wonderful environment within which some of
the world’s most promising young players can display their skills, with many having done so during a highly entertaining first round of group stage matches.