(changes dateline, re-ledes with Brazil match)

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Brazil had to work harder than most people expected to come away from their first match of the 2012 Olympics soccer competition with a 3-2 win over Egypt here on Thursday.

The South American squad jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 30 minutes of the Group C contest, but the Egyptians came back with two goals in the second half and were pressing hard for the equalizer at the end of regulation.

Brazil, with a record five World Cup victories, has never won Olympic gold in soccer.

After picking up a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, the Brazilians entered the 2012 tourney as co-favorites along with Spain and Uruguay.

Spain made its quest for Olympic gold more difficult with a 1-0 loss Thursday to an impressive Japanese squad.

It was an inauspicious start for the Spanish, who seemed unprepared for the skill and speed of Japan and were forced to play more than half of the match in Glasgow with only 10 men after the expulsion of Iñigo Martinez in the 41st minute.

Though Japan only scored once, the Asian side thoroughly dominated and the Group D match would have turned into a rout but for the efforts of Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea.

Even so, the Spaniards can take heart from their experience earlier this summer in the European Championship, where the squad overcame an opening loss to win a third international title in four years, following the 2008 Euro crown and 2010 World Cup.

The other two teams in Group D, Honduras and Morocco, played to a 2-2 draw earlier Thursday in Glasgow.

In Group A action, Uruguay came back from a 1-0 deficit to beat the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in Manchester.

Mexico, touted as a favorite to bring home a medal from the 2012 Games, had to settle for a scoreless tie in its Group B match with South Korea, a perennial nemesis for the Mexicans since the 1948 Olympics.

The Koreans were clearly the better team on Thursday in Newcastle, fulfilling Mexican manager Luis Fernando Tena's prediction of a "tight" and very difficult contest. EFE