Ostu / PHOTO: london2012.com

The Spanish Olympic team, with Montoya and Jordi Alba in the starting line-up, kicked off thier Olympic bid with an unexpected defeat to Japan. The Japanese won thanks to a solitary goal scored by Otsu on 34 minutes. Spain’s already difficult challenge of mounting a comeback was made more difficult when Iñigo Martínez was given his marching orders before the break.

Japanese dominance

The start of the game was dominated by an ambitious Japanese side that pinned back Luis Milla’s side. The only real chance that fell to the Iberians was created by the Azulgrana Martín Montoya, when he thundered down the right wing and passed the ball off to Chelsea’s Juan Mata. Mata tried his luck from outside the box but the Japanese keeper was up to the task and diverted the ball to a corner.

Match-winning goal

The deadlock was broken on 34 minutes, when an unmarked Otsu headed home the go-ahead goal from a corner. Unfortunately for Spain, that wasn’t the end of the Japanese onslaught on De Gea’s goal. The Spanish team, however, did well to not concede a second.

Spain reduced to 10 men

Spain's nerves soon became evident with the scoreboard reflecting 0-1. The play that usually characterises the Spanish side, which hinges on retaining ball possession, wasn’t making itself manifest on the pitch. The center back Iñigo Martínez misplaced his back pass to De Gea, but Kiyotake wasn’t able to take advantage of the chance. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Iñigo’s troubles. The Basque player hauled on Nagai’s shirt after another errant pass and was shown a straight red by the referee. Spain went to the break a man down.

Same dynamic

With a man and a goal down, the Spanish side were unable to create chances at the start of the second half. The Japanese players took advantage of their superior numbers to mount counterattacks that very well could have ended in a second goal. Higashi forced a fine save from De Gea and, on two occasions, he sent the ball flying just on the wrong side of the woodwork.

In the final half hour of the match, Milla’s men went on the attack but Japan’s defence proved impenetrable. The only real chance for the Spaniards came 10 minutes from full time, when Jordi Alba cut into the box from the left wing and tried his luck on goal.

The Japanese could have increased their lead, but Nagi was denied by De Gea in a one-on-one and Yamaguchi, with a clear look on goal, sent the ball into the stands.

With the 0-1 defeat, Spain sit in last place in their group with no points and Japan are leaders with three. Morocco and Honduras both have a point apiece after this morning’s two-all draw.

MATCH STATS

Spain, 0

Jaoan, 1

Spain: De Gea, Montoya, Domínguez, Íñigo Martínez, Jordi Alba, Javi Martínez, Koke ( Tello 80’), Mata, Isco (Romeu 63’), Rodrigo i Adrián (Ander Herrera 56’)

Japan: Gonda, Tokunaga, Ohgihara (Yamamura 86’), Sakai (Sakai 74’), Yoshida, Otsu (Saito 46’), Higashi, Nagai, Suzuki, Yamaguchi i Kiyotake

Goals: 0-1, Otsu (34’)

Referee: Mark Geiger (USA)