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Mexico Brought Back Down To Earth By Japan’s Deadly Duo

TOKYO - Hosts Japan moved within touching distance of qualifying for the men's soccer knockout stages with a 2-1 win over Mexico at Saitama Stadium on Sunday, while France staged a remarkable comeback to beat South Africa 4-3.

Real Madrid's highly rated youngster Takefusa Kubo and playmaker Ritsu Dōan found the net inside the opening 11 minutes as Japan notched up their second consecutive win to move top of Group A with six points.

France, who were hammered 4-1 by Mexico in their Group A opener, got their campaign back on track when Téji Savanier netted a stoppage-time winner in their 4-3 victory over South Africa.

Les Bleus trailed 3-2 with 10 minutes left but captain André-Pierre Gignac converted an 86th-minute penalty to complete his hat-trick before Savanier's late goal. Gignac, one of the three over-age players selected by France along with the under-24 group for the Olympics, now leads the scoring charts in Tokyo with four goals from two matches.

Back-to-back defeats also left South Africa's hopes of qualifying hanging by a thread, a week after their camp reported multiple COVID-19 cases.

Defending champions Brazil banged in four goals in their opening victory over Germany in Group D but their attack failed to fire in a goalless draw against a resolute Ivory Coast side. The South American giants struggled to control the match after losing midfielder Douglas Luiz to a straight red card for denying Ivory Coast winger Max Gradel a clear goalscoring opportunity in the 13th minute.

Spain winger Mikel Oyarzabal ended his country's 21-year wait for an Olympic goal in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Australia in Group C.

Elsewhere, center back Felix Uduokhai pounced on a late header as Germany edged out Saudi Arabia 3-2 in a Group D thriller in Yokohama, with both teams combining for 32 attempts on goal.

South Korea also found their scoring boots in a 4-0 rout of Romania, with playmaker Lee Kang-in finding the net twice in the final six minutes of the match.

There was late drama in the Group B meeting at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium in Tokyo as Honduras forward Rigoberto Rivas found the net with three minutes remaining to hand New Zealand a 3-2 defeat.

Facundo Medina scored to help Argentina to their first three points in Group C with a 1-0 win over Egypt at the Sapporo Dome.

"This victory is very good for us, especially in terms of spirits," said Argentine coach Fernando Batista. "Now we have to rest and prepare for the best way to define the group against Spain."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar and Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond and Hugh Lawson)

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