Road To The Olympic Games


Mexico cruises past France in men's Olympic soccer tourney opener

Alexis Vega and Frank Kessie pushed Mexico and Ivory Coast, respectively, to wins Thursday in their opening matches at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Egypt and Spain play to scoreless draw; Ivory Coast beats Saudi Arabia 2-1

Mexico's Eduardo Aguirre, left, scores their side's fourth goal in Mexico's 4-1 win over France during the men's first round in Group A on Thursday. (Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Alexis Vega scored the first of four second-half goals for Mexico in a 4-1 victory over France on Thursday in the men's Olympic soccer tournament.

Mexico, which won gold at the 2012 Olympics, had the better chances in the first half but the game was scoreless at the break. Vega scored first in the 47th minute and Sebastian Cordova added a second in the 55th.

Andre-Pierre Gignac, who plays for Mexican club Tigres, scored from the penalty spot in the 70th minute to narrow the gap for France, which won the Olympic title in 1984. But Uriel Atuna put Mexico ahead 3-1 in the 80th and Eduardo Aguirre added a goal in stoppage time for El Tri.

While the Olympics is for under-23 squads, coaches are able to name three players born after 1997. So teams in Tokyo are dotted with stars, including Florian Thauvin, who won the 2018 World Cup with France and also plays for Tigres.

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Mexico's team featured goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, a 36-year-old veteran of four World Cups, and Club America teammate Henry Martin at forward.

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Kessie gives Ivory Coast a 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia

Franck Kessie scored the go-ahead goal in the 66th minute and Ivory Coast beat Saudi Arabia 2-1 in its opening match.

Ivory Coast was making its first Olympic appearance since the 2008 Beijing Games, when the team advanced to the knockout stage. Saudi Arabia hasn't been to an Olympics in soccer since 1996.

Ivory Coast went ahead 1-0 late in the first half after an own-goal from defender Abdulelah Alamri, but Saudi Arabia rebounded when Salem Aldawsari scored in the 44th minute.

Kessie, who plays for AC Milan, scored off a pass from Manchester United forward Amad Diallo.

The two teams are in a tough group at the Olympics with Brazil, the gold medallists from the 2016 Games, and Germany, the silver medallists who lost to the Brazilians on penalties at the Maracana Stadium.

Ivory Coast's Franck Kessie is challenged by Saudi Arabia's Ali Alhassan in men's Group A action on Thursday. (Kiichiro Sato/The Associated Press)

Spain held to 0-0 by Egypt

Starting with six players who rushed from the European Championship to the Olympics, Spain was held to a 0-0 draw by Egypt on Thursday.

Spain's best chance to score at the Sapporo Dome came when Dani Ceballos hit the post. The 24-year-old Real Madrid midfielder, who got injured at the end of the first half and had to be taken out, is one of the team's three overage players.

The players in the starting lineup who were also part of Spain's run to the Euro 2020 semifinals two weeks ago were goalkeeper Unai Simon, defenders Eric Garcia and Pau Torres, midfielder Pedro, and forwards Dani Olmo and Mikel Oyarzabal.

Egypt picked players from domestic clubs except Saudi-based Ahmed Hegazi, the team's captain. Liverpool would not release striker Mohamed Salah for the Olympics with the Premier League season starting in three weeks.

Spain's Carlos Soler, left, and Egypt's Ramadan Sobhi vie for the ball during their opening match on Thursday. (SIlvia Izquierdo/The Associated Press)

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