Football: Great Britain v Senegal full-time report
Great Britain 1 Senegal 1
Great Britain’s men’s team now face a battle to qualify from Group A after a late goal by Senegal earned them a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, having appeared to concede an obvious penalty.
The build-up to the match had been focussed mainly upon David Beckham and Gareth Bale who, either by omission or choice, were missing from the Great Britain squad.
Stuart Pearce had only had his squad – the ones whom he had selected and those who elected to turn up - together for little over a fortnight and the 2-0 defeat by Brazil in the warm-up match last week had been a potent lesson about how much of a work in progress this team was.
Another lesson for players and officials was the atmosphere that was generated, or not, by a near-capacity crowd. This was not the more tribal group that might have been expected at an England international but rather a more family orientated attendance that did not provide such an intimidating presence for the opposition. That said a smattering of boos for Craig Bellamy, as a Liverpool player in Manchester, will have reassured the diehards.
Senegal could offer plenty of presence on the field, with 6ft 4in seemingly the minimum requirement, while the presence for Great Britain was provided by Ryan Giggs; twenty-three of the 29 major trophies won by the Great Britain side, but a first appearance at an international tournament at the age of 38 for the Welshman.
The early passage of play was a mixture of attack v defence and a testimonial match until Bellamy scored the first goal with the first shot on target after 19 minutes. It came from a free-kick but Giggs that was lofted into the Senegal penalty area.
The giants of Senegal patently failed to deal with the aerial threat as Steven Caulker’s header was deflected down to Bellamy, who rifled it into the left corner.
Six minutes later Jack Buckland, the goalkeeper, nearly shot Great Britain in the collective foot when a poor clearance came to the feet of Sadio Mane. But then the Senegal midfielder seemed to have a rush of blood to the head and sent his lofted shot wide of the post as Buckland advanced.
Buckland had to be on his guard early in the second half when a shot by Ibrahima Balde had the ‘keeper getting low to push the ball around his left-hand post.
As the match approached the hour-mark there were signs that Senegal were imposing themselves more on the game against a side who were tiring at what was, for them, a pre-season stage of the year. At the same time Senegal were committing a series of niggly fouls that were testing both the referee’s patience and his mathematics as the foul count rose steadily.
Aaron Ramsey, who replaced the injured Joe Allen, delivered an incisive pass to Marvin Sordell , who was caught off-side. Bellamy was caught with something more violent – like a brutal tackle – by Saliou Ciss that must surely have been a penalty but for the fact that neither the referee nor his assistant saw it.
Bellamy was helped by Gary Lewin, the Great Britain physio, and a paramedic. The look on Bellamy’s face suggested that the paramedic might have been needed for the referee’s assistant.
Bellamy left the field for a final time when he was substituted 11 minutes from time to a standing ovation from the Stretford End but that cheer died in the collective throat three minutes later when Senegal equalised from a Great Britain corner. Senegal broke quickly down the right, from where Pape Ndiaye Souare delivered the killer through pass behind the defence towards Moussa Konate, who scored from 15 yards out.
Great Britain rallied, and Sordell hits the bar with a powerful effort after Ramsey found him in space with a cut-back pass, but they more against United Arab Emirates on Sunday.
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