x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Olympics: Mexico's golden fightback breaks Japan's resistance

Oribe Peralta scored once and assisted on another to lead Mexico to the men's gold medal football game against Brazil with a 3-1 victory over Japan, who will face South Korea for bronze.

Oribe Peralta scored once and assisted on another to lead Mexico to the gold medal game against Brazil with a 3-1 victory over Japan, who will face South Korea for bronze.
Oribe Peralta scored once and assisted on another to lead Mexico to the gold medal game against Brazil with a 3-1 victory over Japan, who will face South Korea for bronze.

Mexico stormed back to reach their first Olympic men's final Tuesday with a 3-1 win as Japan's dreams of double football gold were crushed at Wembley.

The Japanese men looked set to join their women's team in setting up a gold medal match at London 2012 when a goal of the tournament from Yuki Otsu gave them an early lead in yesterday's semi-final.

But Marco Fabian, Oribe Peralta and the substitute Javier Cortes turned the game around as Mexico advanced to Saturday's final where they will face Brazil, who defeated South Korea 3-0, and left their opponents playing for bronze.

"We are guaranteed a silver, but we want a gold," Fernando Luis Tena, the Mexico coach said. "Mexico is a football nation. They must be partying tonight."

Mexico's previous best showing at the Olympics was in its 1968 home games, when they beaten 2-0 by Japan in the bronze medal match.

And the Japanese were on course to emulate that result after 12 minutes thanks to a stunning strike from Otsu.

Jose Corona, the Mexico goalkeeper who had already tipped a Hiroshi Kiyotake 25-yarder wide, was helpless as Otsu's instant control from Keigo Higashi's pass set up a 20-yard half-volley the forward crashed into the top corner.

Mexico hit back and the pressure told in the 31st minute when a Dos Santos corner was flicked on by Jorge Enriquez and Fabian nodded home.

Mexico continued to call the shots in the second half and completed their comeback in the 65th minute.

Peralta had just drilled too close to Shuichi Gonda, who rolled the ball out to Takahiro Ohgihara. But the midfielder was robbed by Peralta, who drove an unstoppable strike right into the top corner.

Cortes held off several weak challenges before firing the ball under Gonda in stoppage time.

"We had a good start but then stopped moving," Takashi Sekizuka, the Japan coach said. "Everyone is very disappointed. But we need to get over our emotion and prepare for the next game."

Meanwhile, two goals from Leandro Damiao and one from Romulo ensured that tournament favourites Brazil made comfortable work of the Koreans at Old Trafford.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE