Spain made its task in the 2012 Olympic soccer competition more difficult with a 1-0 loss here 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 contest with only 10 men after the expulsion of Iñigo Martinez in the 41st minute.
Though Japan only scored once, a tally by Otsu at minute 34, 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