Brazil, defending Olympic champions, rode a stunning hat-trick from young Richarlison in a space of 30 minutes to blow away Germany 4-2 in their opening Group D game of men’s football at the International Stadium on a day of upsets in Tokyo.
France’s campaign got off to a disastrous start earlier in the day when they were thrashed 4-1 by Mexico while Argentina suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Australia.
A young Brazil team found their rhythm early on and could have sewn up the game by the interval given the amount of chances they created but Germany struck twice in the second half, despite going down to 10 men in the 63rd minute.
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Richarlison drove home at the second attempt in the seventh minute and headed Brazil into a 2-0 lead before completing his hat-trick with a fine strike in the 30th minute with the German defence in chaos.
Nadiem Amiri pulled one back for Germany after the break and although Max Arnold was dismissed in the 63rd minute, a Ragnar Ache header gave Brazil an unexpectedly nervous the final stages. However, with Germany pushing forward, Brazil caught them on the break in stoppage time, Paulinho finishing off a counterattack with a drive into the top corner.
Sylvain Ripoll’s France, chasing a first Olympic medal since winning gold in 1984, collapsed in the second half when Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Erick Aguirre found the net for Mexico at the Tokyo Stadium.
“The first thing we now have to do is digest this disappointment,” Ripoll said. “We only have two days. There’s no time to waste.”
In their first Olympic campaign since Beijing 2008, Australia took a surprise lead against twice gold medallists Argentina inside 14 minutes when winger Lachlan Wales scored from close range.
Argentina’s problems were compounded late in the first half when left back Francisco Ortega was sent off after two quickfire yellow cards - the second for a tug on Australia’s Riley McGree.
The South American side never quite recovered from the setback, as substitute Marco Tilio added a second for the Olyroos in the 80th minute to seal a memorable win.
Spain, the last European men’s team to claim gold in the competition at home in Barcelona 1992, also stuttered in their opening match as they dominated possession but created few opportunities in a goalless stalemate with Egypt in Sapporo.
Along with Euro 2020 young player of tournament Pedri, Spain had five other players who featured in the senior team’s run to the semi-finals in Euro 2020 this month.
They came closest to scoring when Dani Ceballos hit the post on the half-hour mark before the Real Madrid playmaker joined full back Oscar Mingueza on the sidelines due to injuries at the end of first half.
Unlike the women’s tournament featuring all the senior players, the men’s teams are usually restricted to Under-23 sides, with three over-age players allowed per team.
Competitions in football (men and women) and softball got underway since Wednesday ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday morning. Four more disciplines - archery, equestrian, rowing and shooting will get underway from Friday.
Mexico 4 France 1
Japan 1 South Africa 0
New Zealand 1 South Korea 0
Honduras 0 Romania 1
Egypt 0 Spain 0
Argentina 0 Australia 2
Ivory Coast 2 Saudi Arabia 1
Brazil 4 Germany 2