Ryan Giggs got his goal and Britain got a 3-1 win over the United Arab Emirates to keep its Olympic title dreams going. With Prince William and David Beckham watching on, too.
The 38-year-old Giggs capped a nifty buildup with a 16th minute opener to become the oldest goalscorer at the games, which is also the Welshman’s first major tournament.
Rashed Eisa nearly spoiled the party for 82,239 fans at Wembley Stadium with an equalizer on the hour mark. But Giggs replacement Scott Sinclair scored in the 73rd before Daniel Sturridge’s perfect lob capped what turned out to be an emphatic win.
As Beckham and British royalty watched, the hosts joined Senegal atop Group A with four points to eliminate the UAE. Uruguay has three points after losing to the Africans 2-0 at Wembley earlier on Sunday.
Giggs lifted the hosts into the lead after a smart set-up that ultimately finished with the Manchester United winger heading Craig Bellamy’s cross into the area down off the ground and beyond the reach of goalkeeper Ali Khaseif, who was superb until Britain broke out in the second half.
Giggs, whose native Wales has never managed to reach a major tournament during his playing days, surpassed the 88-year-old record held by Egypt’s Hussein Hegazi, who was 37 at the time, as the oldest scorer in the competition’s history.
The Welshman’s feat was nearly soured by the passive second half start by the hosts, as Eisa received alone in the middle before bursting forward to go clear on helpless goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Butland kept Britain even with clutch stops on Ahmed Khalil before Giggs came off for Sinclair two minutes before the Swansea City midfielder poked into the empty goal after Khaseif spilled Bellamy’s swerving cross onto his foot.
Sturridge, who replaced Marvin Sordell after the break, held off two defenders to reach Tom Cleverley’s through ball and flick over Khaseif from outside the area after the UAE ‘keeper came off his line with thoughts of challenging the Chelsea striker.
Britain’s medal hopes are far from finished, however, with a tough match against Uruguay in Cardiff on Wednesday. Anything but defeat in a matchup between fellow two-time Olympic champions will see Britain progress to the last eight.