Cardiff, Wales (Sports Network) - Great Britain's Olympic haul started slow but ended with a bang as it claimed a 1-0 victory over Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday to finish atop Group A and send the South American side packing.
After kicking off group play with a 1-1 draw against Senegal, Great Britain found itself tied at a goal apiece with the United Arab Emirates before going on to take a 3-1 win in its second match.
That win galvanized the Brits as they rode Daniel Sturridge's late first-half strike to a hard-fought win over Uruguay on Wednesday.
Both sides enjoyed their fare share of scoring chances in the opening period, but Great Britain stole the game's lone goal just before the break.
Joe Allen collected a through ball on the left side of the box and slid a low cross across the face of goal to the back post. The delivery was just out of reach for Uruguay goalkeeper Martin Campana and Sturridge closed the space to turn it in from close range.
Uruguay pushed for an equalizer throughout the second half, coming close midway through when Luis Suarez found himself one-on-one with Jack Butland. Suarez was unable to beat the England-born 'keeper on the first attempt, and the British defense retreated to clear the ball to safety and deny the Liverpool striker another shot on goal.
The match ultimately got away from the South American side, which was widely regarded as one of the favorites to challenge for a gold medal. Instead, Uruguay finishes third in the group with three points, which came by way of a 2-1 defeat of the United Arab Emirates in its opening match.
Joining Great Britain in the quarterfinals will be Senegal, which finished as Group A runners-up by overturning a one-goal deficit to earn a point in a 1-1 draw with the United Arab Emirates.
Brazil finished atop Group C in men's soccer on Wednesday after a comfortable 3-0 defeat of New Zealand.
First-half goals from Danilo and Leandro Damiao put the South Americans in control, while Sandro added a third goal after the break to help Brazil win all three of its group stage contests by a combined score of 9-3. Egypt claimed second place in the group with a 3-1 victory over Belarus.
Japan finished on top of Group D after a 0-0 draw with Honduras, which was good enough for both sides to advance, while Spain ended a disappointing tournament with a 0-0 draw against Morocco, leaving the Spanish with one point from three games and no goals scored.
Mexico booked a place in the knockout round for the first time since 1996 as a second-half goal from Oribe Peralta was enough for a 1-0 win over Switzerland, giving the Mexicans seven points from three games to finish first in Group B. South Korea also advanced from the group after a 0-0 draw with Gabon.
Quarterfinal play takes place Saturday with Japan taking on Egypt in Manchester, Mexico squaring off against Senegal in London, Brazil facing Honduras in Newcastle and Great Britain going against South Korea in Cardiff.
08/01 17:07:02 ET