Brazil opens soccer play with victory

Brazil 3, Egypt 2
Brazil's Leandro Damiao scores against Egypt in the 26th minute on Thursday to put his team up 2-0 in the group C match. Brazil, the gold-medal favorite, won 3-2.

CARDIFF, Wales — Gold-medal favorite Brazil scored three first-half goals then held on for a 3-2 win over Egypt in its opening match in Group C of the men’s Olympic soccer tournament.

Rafael opened the scoring in the 16th minute, Leandro Damiao added another in the 26th and Neymar scored in the 30th to give Brazil a comfortable halftime lead before

Egypt made it interesting with goals by captain Mohamed Aboutrika in the 52nd and substitute Mohamed Salah in the 76th.

Brazil is one of the few teams with many of its top players in the Olympic tournament and is one of the top contenders for the gold. Several of its players likely will be on the team that will try to win the World Cup at home in 2014.

FINALE FOR PHELPS: For Michael Phelps, this is it. In his mind, there’s no doubt about it. As soon as his hand touches the wall for the final time at the London Olympics, his swimming career is over.

And, really, what’s left to accomplish?

“Enough is enough,” said Phelps’ longtime coach, Bob Bowman. “Come on! It’s been a very long road. A great road, no doubt, but I think at some point you have to graduate. He needs to move on to something else.”

BOLT’S BAD BACK: Olympic Usain Bolt champion said Thursday a bad back has been causing him hamstring problems, leading to a pair of losses to training partner Yohan Blake at the Jamaican trials.

“It was a slight problem. I got that fixed and I’m ready to go,” Bolt said in his first formal media appearance of the London Games, where he was given the honor of carrying his country’s flag at Friday’s opening ceremony.

Bolt lost to Blake twice at the recent Jamaican trials in both the 100 and his favored 200 meters. The setbacks fueled speculation that he was injured but haven’t dampened expectation that he will retain his 100 and 200 gold medals.

“My fitness (at the trials) was all right, I guess, but I wasn’t at the best,” Bolt said. “I can’t complain. It was all right. It’s always a wake up call to get beaten. For me it’s all about getting it right on the day. I’m all right (now).”

ROGER’S NOT OUT: Roger Federer is leaning toward competing in the 2016 Games if his body holds up.

Federer, who turns 31 on Aug. 8, said Thursday his mindset includes Rio de Janeiro, but it will depend on his ability to stay healthy.

“There’s so many moving parts,” Federer said. “They also have a role in this decision-making but the mind still wants me to play, and I hope the body allows me to do it as well.”

First up for the world No. 1 is the London Games, where he will try for his first gold medal in singles on a court he knows well.

Federer’s first match is against Colombian Alejandro Falla, who pushed the Swiss star to five sets before losing in the first round at Wimbledon in 2010.

HOT AIR: British scientists say a heat wave has caused London’s air quality to deteriorate, which could affect athletes’ performances at the Olympics.

Scientists from King’s College in London say pollution in the British capital has reached the highest level in six years.

Recent sunshine and low winds are “exactly the conditions that can bring summertime smog to London,” the environmental experts said in a statement Thursday.

London has the largest and most advanced air quality surveillance systems in Europe.

It is funded by the government and run by the King’s College center.

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