Great Britain kick-started their Olympic campaign with a 3-1 victory over the United Arab Emirates at Wembley.

Performing with much more fluidity than was displayed in an opening draw with Senegal, GB finally put away an impressive UAE side, who had equalized Ryan Giggs' strike with a goal from Rashed Eisa on the hour-mark. But whereas GB had failed to capitalize after a similarly early lead against Senegal, this time they recovered with two goals in quick-succession from substitutes Scott Sinclair and Daniel Sturridge to come out on top of an engaging contest.

Stuart Pearce made key changes to his lineup and formation that paid immediate dividends. With Tom Cleverley coming into a three-man midfield, both he and captain Ryan Giggs were allowed time on the ball to get forward and cause real problems time and again to the UAE defense. Moving Craig Bellamy out wide also proved a wise choice and the Welshman tormented the right side of the UAE defense for much of the encounter.

There was no surprise that Cleverley and Bellamy played a major part in the opening goal. The young Manchester United midfielder laying the ball out wide to his experienced Welsh colleague who curled the ball into the far post where Giggs arrived to head the ball down and into the net.

Things could have gotten even better for GB as they came agonizingly close to extending their lead just before the break. Bellamy again caused problems running down the left before cutting it back to the on-rushing Cleverley, who struck a left-footed shot across goal that had Ali Khaseif beaten but struck the inside of the post before bouncing across the line and coming out off the woodwork on the other side.

While GB had looked good going forward in the first 45 minutes, the UAE also showed more than enough to suggest that the game was far from over. And so it proved.

There was an early warning of the UAE's increased impetus in the second half as Ahmed Khalil blasted an effort from the edge of the area that struck the outside of Jack Butland's post.

Just seven minutes later, GB would not be so fortunate. Omar Abdulrahmen played a fine pass inside from the right and Eisa took the ball perfectly into his stride and through the GB defense before coolly finishing low past Butland.

There were more nervous moments to follow as the UAE threatened on more than once occasion to take the lead.

But Great Britain survived and Pearce's substitutions reaped him major awards.

Sinclair scored with his first touch after Bellamy, switched to the right side, teased his marker and whipped in an ideal ball across the six-yard box that Khaseif could only push onto the Swansea man at the far post to slot home.

Another GB substitute, Sturridge had played a major part in the goal by drawing the attention of Khaseif as he threatened to get onto the cross at the near post. The Chelsea man would claim all the glory himself just three minutes later.

Cleverley intercepted a ball in the opposition half and immediately set Sturridge away, who showed fabulous technique to produce a sublime left-footed chip the ball over the stoic Khaseif.

The damage had been done to UAE and what could have been another disappointing draw turned into a well-earned and potentially crucial victory. The three points putting GB level with Senegal at the top of Group A but still with plenty of work to do in their final match against a much-fancied, but under-performing Uruguay.


GB-UAE footyroom.com by footyroom