Honduras Dump Spain Out of Olympics Football Tournament

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Spain’s Juan Mata goes home empty-handed from the Olympics (Getty)
(WFI) Spain’s Juan Mata will not add a London 2012 Olympic football gold medal to his 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 titles.

The 24-year-old Chelsea FC midfielder and his teammates crashed out of the tournament Sunday night, losing 1-0 to Honduras in a big upset. It meant they had suffered their second loss in as many games.

Honduran Jerry Bengtson, a striker with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, scored the winner in the seventh minute in the chippy match. Referee Juan Soto of Venezuela was busy, issuing seven yellow cards to Spain and six to Honduras.

“It was such a fast-paced and intense game,” said Honduras coach Luis Suarez. “It exploded into a lot more than a football match. For me, it was a stew of emotions, a mountain of feelings.”

Spain had 67 percent possession but had only six of its 24 shots on target. Bengtson’s goal was among the three Honduras shots on target.

Spain coach Luis Milla conceded it was possible that the pressure to match the country’s World Cup and Euro 2012 title affected the team.

“But this is a team full of players that play at the highest level,” Milla said. “As coaches we have to analyze why we have been knocked out. We are out of the Olympic Games which we prepared very well for.”

The attendance for the match at St. James’ Park in Newcastle was 26,523. Spain lost its opening Group D match to Japan, also by a 1-0 score.

Japan (2-0-0) and Honduras (1-1-0) are poised to go through when group stage ends Wednesday. The two teams that dealt Spain its losses meet in Coventry. Spain hopes to end the tournament with a win over Morocco.

In group A, host Great Britain (1-1-0) and Uruguay (1-0-1) meet in Cardiff. The host needs only a draw to advance.

Uruguay needs a win

Brazil hopes for a third consecutive win when it faces New Zealand in Newcastle.

Meanwhile, in women’s football on Tuesday, host Great Britain meets Brazil and its superstar Marta at Wembley Stadium at 7:45 p.m. for placing. The group E combatants have two wins apiece.

Canada (1-0-1) and Sweden (1-1-0) meet in Newcastle and Japan (1-1-0) and South Africa (0-0-2) face each other in Cardiff to solve a group F logjam.

North Korea (1-0-1) travels to Manchester to meet group G leader U.S.A. (2-0-0) and France (1-0-1) and Colombia (0-0-2) meet at Newcastle.

Quarterfinals go Aug. 3 for women and Aug. 4 for men.

By INSIDER’s Bob Mackin

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