Wembley, London: Two goals within three minutes saw Great Britain all but snuff out the UAE’s maiden appearance at the Olympic Games with a deserving 3-1 win at Wembley here late on Sunday.
After falling to the opener from skipper Ryan Giggs, the UAE did well to earn an equalizer in the 60th minute through Al Wasl’s Rashid Eisa.
But then came a handy substitution from Great Britain coach Stuart Pearce as he brought in Scott Sinclair in place of his captain and the Swansea City midfielder put the hosts clear off his very first touch in the 73rd minute.
Three minutes later, Pearce’s second substitution repaid the faith of his coach when he prodded home the third to seal the match and the three points along with it.
Great Britain are now at the top of Group A with four points along with Senegal, who withstood a late assault from former two-time gold medalists Uruguay to win 2-0 in the earlier match.
The UAE is at the bottom of the group with no points following their two defeats on the trot. They play their last group match against Senegal on August 1.
The UAE played with a lot of gusto and flair and had the better share of exchanges in the early part of the match before an estimated holiday crowd of 90,000.
Rashid Eisa had the first look at goal when Omar Abdul Rahman laid for him inside the area, but his try crashed against a defender.
The first goal came in the 16th minute following a fine effort between two Welshmen. Giggs relayed the ball to the far left to Craig Bellamy and then ran in to meet an inch perfect cross past Ali Khasief on the UAE goal.
The UAE pressed for the equalizer and that exposed their defensive line to an extent. On the stroke of half-time they had a lucky escape following a snap counter that saw Bellamy make a fine run down the left and relay to Tom Cleverley, whose effort knocked both the posts and was cleared away to safety.
After initial domination in the second half, the UAE got a well-deserved equalizer on the hour when Omar Abdul Rahman once again cleverly fed in a calculated pass through the heart of the British defence and Rashid Eisa darted in and placed coolly past Jack Butland on the British goal.
Ten minutes later, the hosts had a narrow escape when Butland smothered away an Ahmad Khalil effort with his foot.
Pearce’s substitution of Giggs with Sinclair paid instant dividends as the Swansea City man was at hand in front of goal to prod home a cross from Bellamy.
And then in the 76th minute, Sturridge sealed off a convincing win when he cleverly used his pace to punish the UAE defence with a lob over onrushing Khasief to seal full points.