Team GB men struck by English penalty curse
Team GB’s men were unable to avenge their female counterparts’ quarter-final defeat, as they succumbed 5-4 on penalties to South Korea. On Britain’s most successful Olympic day in over a century, what could be more fitting than a British defeat on penalties to bring people momentarily back to reality?
Stuart Pearce kept the faith in the squad that beat the UAE, which meant Ryan Giggs remained on the bench and it was to be a decision that didn’t really pay off.
GB were sluggish in the early stages of the game and it was the Koreans who showed the greater desire in the opening exchanges, which culminated in their opener from Sunderland’s Ji Dong Won in the 30th minute. A well-struck shot from the edge of the area was horribly misjudged by Jack Butland as the ball sailed over the Birmingham keeper.
The Koreans continued to dominate the play until GB were handed a lifeline: Ryan Bertrand’s tame attempt on goal struck the arm of an oncoming Korean defender and the referee pointed to the spot. Aaron Ramsey stepped up and saw a poor penalty squeeze under the Korean keeper and into the net, levelling the score at 1-1. Moments later things went from bad to worse for South Korea as Daniel Sturridge was brought down in the area and another spot kick was awarded. This time Ramsey wasn’t to be so lucky and a second poor penalty was comfortably saved just before half-time.
Surprisingly, Stuart Pearce left his side unchanged as his team re-emerged. The second 45 minutes ended in a stalemate with very few chances created from either side.
It wasn’t until the introduction of Ryan Giggs that GB seemed the most likely to nab a winner. However for all their efforts they lacked the killer instinct in the final third, and with a sense of inevitability, penalties loomed.
Ramsey stepped up to take the first kick and smashed it into the back of the net, leaving the rest of us scratching our heads thinking, why didn’t he do that earlier? The following seven penalties were all converted (something new for the England fans amongst us) and it felt as if it would only take the one miss to determine the outcome. Unfortunately, Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge was the culprit. His stuttering run-up did him no favours and his strike was comfortably saved.
Hopefully our boys will take away the positives from these games and use it to strive for success in their senior national sides. Team GB was fun while it lasted.
Dan Cain, Olympics correspondent