SPORTS

Greece rebounds from two-goal deficit to tie against South Korea

The men’s national Olympic soccer team needed to rebound from a two-goal deficit against South Korea for a final 2-2 score in its opening Group A game in Thessaloniki last night. The visitors opened the scoring at 43 minutes with Kim Dong-jin and went further ahead at 64 minutes when the Greek team conceded an own-goal from Loukas Vyntras. But the host side, playing before a capacity crowd at Kaftantzogleio Stadium, displayed character to narrow the deficit with goals in the 78th and 82nd minutes from Ioannis Taralidis and Dimitris Papadopoulos respectively. The Olympic soccer tournament got under way two days ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony in Athens. In Volos, one of four Greek cities hosting Olympic soccer, outsider Mali held Mexico to a 0-0 in another Group A match to keep alive Africa’s bid for a third triumph in a row. After Nigeria’s victory at the 1996 Games and Cameroon’s gold medal at Sydney four years ago, Mali, which ousted Cameroon in qualifying, is one of four African nations chasing the men’s title in Greece. The others are Tunisia, Morocco and Ghana. In women’s competition, world champions Germany thrashed China 8-0 to open their campaign for Olympic women’s soccer gold in devastating fashion, while the US trounced hosts Greece 3-0. Inspired by a four-goal performance from women’s international footballer of the year Birgit Prinz, Germany showed they have the class to add the Olympic title to their world title won last year. It was a stunning defeat for China, 1996 silver medalists and once one of the strongest women’s teams in the world but currently struggling to rebuild its squad. Japan’s women flew the flag for Asia after China’s miserable capitulation with a 1-0 win over Sweden. Eriko Arakawa’s 22nd-minute strike settled the encounter in Volos, the Japanese forward netting at 22 minutes after a blunder by Sweden keeper Caroline Joensson. A solitary goal also handed Brazil a 1-0 victory over Australia, attacker Marta rifling home on 35 minutes to give the South Americans an opening win over the Matildas in Thessaloniki. In the opening round’s remaining results: Group C (men’s) – Tunisia 1, Australia 1; Argentina 6, Serbia & Montenegro 0. (AFP, AP, Kathimerini)