Japan forward Yuki Otsu scored in the first half in a 1-0 victory over 10-man Spain on Thursday in Olympic men's soccer, hurting the Spaniards' chances of winning a gold medal.
Japan got the winner when Otsu broke away from his marker during a corner in the 34th minute and the ball landed right at his feet for a simple tap-in past Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.
Spain was reduced to 10 men just a few minutes after the goal when center back Inigo Martinez was sent off for a foul while trying to stop a Japanese player from scoring.
“It was an important win for us,” Japan captain Maya Yoshida said. “Spain are a very strong team in the group and we played well against them. We worked really hard and we will enjoy our victory. We can get a lot of confidence from this.”
The loss comes as a blow for Spain’s under-23 team, which wants to win Olympic gold to add to the World Cup and European Championship titles held by the country’s full national team.
The Olympic side has two more matches to turn it around, against Group D opponents Honduras and Morocco, which drew 2-2 in Newcastle.
“Our aim is to win both of them. We have to,” said Spain forward Juan Mata, who plays for Chelsea and is one of the three overage players. “We need to improve some things and we have to play better.”