Despite enduring a 16-minute period in the second half in which it looked like they had squandered another winning position, Great Britain’s men’s football team claimed a 3-1 victory over UAE to edge closer to a spot in the quarter-finals.
Ryan Giggs, Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge’s goals conquered a team who despite an early exit have proven tricky opponents in this tournament, and ensures that a draw against Uruguay on Wednesday will be enough to secure progress.
Sunday’s display was a significant improvement on Thursday’s draw with Senegal, though their frustrators on that occasion showed that they are stronger than most suspected with a 2-0 triumph with ten men over much-fancied Uruguay.
The struggles of the Copa America winners and World Cup semi-finalists have seen Great Britain move level alongside them as 8/1 second favourites.
The other reason for their climb up the pecking order is the shock demise of Spain, who are eliminated with a game to spare after following up a shock 1-0 defeat to Japan with an even more unlikely 1-0 loss to Honduras.
Europe’s Under-21 champions had started the competition perceived as the continent’s top challengers and the chief threat to frontrunners Brazil, so their swift departure sees Mano Menezes’ side considered practically unstoppable.
Brazil have already taken their place in the quarter-finals courtesy of wins over Egypt and Belarus and are by some distance the top scorers having fired three times in both matches, and they are 8/13 to obtain the gold medal.
They were made to work for their latest three points against Belarus, with the outsiders taking an early lead at Old Trafford. Brazil weren’t in front until Neymar’s stunning 65th-minute free kick, and Chelsea newcomer Oscar applied some injury-time gloss.
The only other team maintaining a 100 per cent record are Japan, who followed up their Spain success with a 1-0 victory over Morocco. They are 9/1 to win gold.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.