SPORTS

Olympics 2016: After bumpy start, Mexico beats Fiji 5-1 in men's soccer

Mexico's Marco Bueno, left, fights for the ball with Fiji's Anish Khem during a group C match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Mexico and Fiji at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Arisson Marinho)

Mexico's Marco Bueno, left, fights for the ball with Fiji's Anish Khem during a group C match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Mexico and Fiji at the Fonte Nova Arena in Salvador, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Arisson Marinho)  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Erick Gutierrez scored three goals early in the second half and added another late in the game to help defending Olympic champion Mexico beat Fiji 5-1 on Sunday.

Fiji, playing in its first Olympics and coming off an 8-0 loss to South Korea, took the early lead when veteran striker Roy Krishna scored in the 10th minute, but Gutierrez netted in the 48th, 55th and 58th to put Mexico back on track at the Arena Fonte Nova in the northeastern city of Salvador.

Mexico defender Carlos Salcedo added to the lead in the 67th and Gutierrez finished it off in the 73rd.

The victory left Mexico in first place in Group C with four points from two games. The Mexicans were coming off a 2-2 draw against Germany, when they dominated and twice relinquished a lead. Germany plays South Korea in the later game in Salvador.

Cheered on by the Brazilian fans, Fiji got on the board in a quick counterattack after Mexico lost the ball. Veteran goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera left his goal to try to intercept a long ball sent to the area but Krishna beat him to it and scored.

Gutierrez, a 21-year-old striker who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, missed a chance from close range just before halftime, but he netted the equalizer with a low shot from near the penalty spot three minutes into the second half. He then added the go-ahead goal with a strike that deflected off the post, and increased the lead by completing a cross near the goal line.

Fiji was trounced by South Korea on Thursday but had played well most of the game and only conceded seven of the eight goals after the 60th minute.

Mexico stunned favorite Brazil at the London Games four years ago, winning its first gold medal in soccer.

The Mexicans brought a strong squad to defend their Olympic title, led by Pachuca striker Hirving Lozano, the only under-23 player on the Mexico team in the Copa America, and forward Oribe Peralta, who scored four goals in the team's winning campaign in London.

Soccer is the only competition played outside Rio. The other host cities are Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte and Manaus. The tournament began two days before the opening ceremony, and the men's final will be Aug. 20 at the Maracana Stadium.

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter & Instagram