Great Britain clinched a quarterfinal spot at the Olympics with a 1-0 victory over Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Needing a draw to make it past the group, Daniel Sturridge got the decisive strike late in the first half to send GB though as group winners.
While Britain can now look forward to a meeting with South Korea, Uruguay, one of the pre-tournament favorites, will be heading home. Coming into the match on three points following a disappointing defeat to Senegal, Uruguay knew that a victory was required to ensure progress.
But, despite Uruguay's quality and their greater imperative to go forward, it was Great Britain that started the brighter. Though creating no clear chances, there was plenty to keep the Uruguayan defense occupied.
Playing in their national stadium, it was the Welsh duo of Aaron Ramsey and Craig Bellamy that were providing much of the attacking threat for Britain. The pair combined skillfully on the right, as Bellamy played the ball inside to Ramsey, who drilled it across goal, but with no-one able to get a vital touch to turn the ball into the net.
With Bellamy hogging the touchline, Britain had a constant option out wide on the right and Neil Taylor, coming forward from full-back, was doing a good job of getting his colleague in-behind.
Uruguay briefly showed their attacking potential as Luis Suarez led a breakaway before supplying Gaston Ramirez, who fired over from distance.
Suarez a shot on himself on the half-hour mark, but Micah Richards did well to get a vital block in.
It was Britain that continued to more dangerous going forward, though, and few could argue as they took the lead in first-half injury time.
Scott Sinclair cut inside from the left before playing it in behind to Joe Allen who cut back two deceive two defenders before slipping a clever ball across goal that goalkeeper Martin Campana failed to cut out and Sturridge was on hand to poke it into an unguarded net.
Britain thought that they had almost extended their lead within the first two minutes of the second half. Bellamy swung in a cross from the right that Sinclair headed back across goal and onto the post. As it turned out the goal wouldn't have counted as the officials deemed the cross to have traveled behind the byline.
While Britain were looking assured, against a side featuring players of the quality of Suarez, there was always a threat. The Liverpool forward came close to bringing his side level as he took advantage of a poor challenge by Steven Caulker to cut inside and fake past Micah Richards before being denied twice by young keeper Jack Butland.
Suarez was to be denied by Butland once more as the contest approached its final quarter. Running in behind the British backline, Suarez shot low left-footed across goal, but Butland did well to get fingertips to it and Cavani, arriving at the far post, could only divert the ball into the side netting from a narrow angle.
After lying dormant for so long, Suarez, as well as Edinson Cavani, were beginning to show signs of life.
Taylor came in on his favored left foot and curled an impressive strike than had Campana at full stretch but just went past the far post.
AS Uruguay poured forward late on in search of the two goals they would need, Britain almost took advantage on the counter, Sturridge tricked the opposition defense before firing a fine left-footed effort from the3 edge of the area that Campana did well to turn past the post.
As time expired Uruguay's last opportunity came and went as Gaston Ramirez smashed a ferocious drive from the edge of the area against the woodwork. It wasn't to be Uruguay's night, or their Olympics.
As for Great Britain, there is encouragement in their improvement through each match this inexperienced side has played. Expectations from the home fans will now be raised that a medal awaits in their first Olympics since 1960.