The Spanish Olympic Football Team lost 0-1 to Honduras today, crashing out of the London 2012 Olympic Football tournament without a chance to advance after back to back shock losses.
Having lost to Japan (0-1) previously, Spain needed to beat Honduras and later Morocco to advance. They failed to even tie lowly Honduras.
Spain fell behind at the 7 minute mark as much because the Hondurans were on as because the Spaniards seemed to be sleepwalking. Thereafter the Spanish team mounted a furious counter beginning at about the 25th minute of the first half and seemingly continuing for the entire second half, to no avail.
Juan Mata alone missed seven goal scoring opportunities (many due to his own poor choices) and three players managed to hit the crossbar or post. Honduran goalkeeper Mendoza picked the right game for what is so far the save of the tournament diving to his right and scooping a header out of its trajectory toward the net milliseconds and millimeters before it could become a goal.
This was not Spain’s best day, but that was not the only story line. Unfortunately the full story had four main themes, the first two concurrent the latter two sequential.
First, an unfortunate Spanish team with most of the possession and creating countless scoring chances simply could not find the way to the net. On the other side of the field, a Honduran side was playing the game of their lives and seemed to have all the breaks going their way.
Second, the story was also a matter of a referee who was simply too inexperienced to know that if over two halves, an 80-minute period, a goalkeeper (six times), two defenders (twice each), two midfielders (twice a piece) and a striker (twice) feign life threatening injuries but bounce up to sprint back onto the pitch in under ten seconds after leaving the field under trainers’ supervision, that maybe something other than an injury is precipitating the need for medical attention. It would be interesting to use a stopwatch to specify just how much time was purposely wasted by Honduras after their lone score.
Third, the ref missed a penalty against Rodrigo in the 89th minute that every other being in the stadium saw and that slow motion replays made absurdly obvious. Needless to say a tie might have still given Spain a chance to advance.
Fourth and last, when it became obvious the game was simply not going to go their way, and the ref was simply not going to call the penalty, the young Spaniards first and the young Hondurans soon after clashed physically in many an unnecessary near scuffle.
Perhaps the best that can be said is that Spain did not earn its way and should have been eliminated; that Honduras’ cynical advance will most probably culminate in a decisive downfall in the next round; and that Juan Mata’s best moment of the day was when he prevented his teammates from manhandling the ref on the pitch after the final whistle.