Headlines in Japan declared Thursday's 1-0 win against heavily favored Spain on the opening day of the Olympic men's soccer tournament the "Miracle of Glasgow" as the country celebrates the pre-Opening Ceremony shocker.
Less than a month after Spain's senior team won Euro 2012 to complete a historic three consecutive major tournament wins (the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2008 being the others), its Olympic squad has been widely considered one of the favorites to continue the country's recent soccer dominance. Underrated Japan seemed unimpressed by Spain's reputation from the start of the match though, and ended up scoring in the 34th minute with a goal from 22-year-old Yuki Otsu.
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Four minutes before halftime, Spain was dealt a damaging blow when defender Inigo Martinez was shown a red card for a bumbling challenge. Playing the rest of the match with just 10 men, Spain couldn't recover and Japan narrowly missed a chance to extend its lead before the final whistle, at which point Otsu burst into tears.
"I was sobbing at the end of the game," match-winner Otsu told Japanese media after his close-range goal helped Japan beat Spain for the first time at any level.
"We are here to win the gold medal," added the German-based midfielder, who was tweeting "Please! Please!" from the bench in the second half after being withdrawn with a bruised ankle.
The win was reminiscent of Japan's 1-0 victory against Brazil at the 1996 Olympics, known as the "Miracle of Miami," and has momentarily diverted some attention from the country's World Cup-winning women's team. Despite the emotions and media hyperbole, Otsu wasn't interested in writing the win off as pure magic.
"It's not a miracle," said Otsu. "It's the result of hard work and preparation."
Japan will have the chance to further prove that point against Morocco on Sunday in its second of three group-stage matches.
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