Three days after Japan's 1-0 win over Spain in the first round of Olympic men's soccer Group D was hailed as the "Miracle of Glasgow," Honduras repeated that result for itself, beating Spain 1-0 to eliminate one of the clear favorites from the tournament. With one group match left to play against Morocco, Spain's shocking inability to score a single goal in its first two matches -- making it the only team in the competition to do so -- will prevent any chance of advancing to the quarterfinals.
[Related: Brazil defeats Belarus to advance]
Along with Brazil, Spain was an overwhelming favorite to contend for gold in the men's soccer competition. Mere weeks ago, Spain's senior team won a record third consecutive major tournament at Euro 2012 (the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 being the other two) and the country's U-21 and U-19 teams are both reigning European champions. This has been an unprecedented golden age of dominance for Spain's possession heavy style of play at all levels, yet even with three members of the Euro 2012 winning squad -- Juan Mata, Jordi Alba and Javi Martinez -- among the Olympic team comprised of U-23 players and three overage players, it still came up astoundingly short.
Honduras put Spain on edge early with a seventh-minute goal from Jerry Bengtson, who plays club football in MLS along with teammates Andy Najar and Roger Espinoza, and did all it could to keep Spain at bay by any means necessary throughout the rest of the match. Missed chances that Spain usually puts away with ease were a common theme through both of its matches, but special derision is being reserved for the referee in the Honduras game after he denied a penalty shout. From there, Spain's frustration grew as each second of disappointment ticked by and showed itself in the form of haranguing the referee with chest bumps and swarming confrontations that carried on even after the final whistle.
[Photos: U.S. Women's Soccer]
It's far too early to tell if this is some kind of negative turning point for Spanish football, but it is definitely a staggering result for the country. One writer for Madrid-based sports paper Marca declares this is "the surprise of the Games so far, even ahead of the fourth place the other day for [Michael] Phelps in the pool. Madre mia."
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