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TOUGH START FOR FOOTBALLERS BUT MEDAL HOPES ARE ON TRACK.

THE action at the XV Paralympics began yesterday with one sight many wanted to see at the Olympics but did not - a united Great Britain football team taking on hosts Brazil.

Britain's seven-a-side footballers, for athletes with cerebral palsy or an acquired brain injury, lost 2-1 at the Deodoro Stadium.

The national Football Associations continue to block a British team at the Olympics, but there was no such issue at the Paralympics.

PARALYMPICSGB had three Scots and one Northern Irishman in the 14-man squad, plus Matt Crossen from Stockton.

Former Birmingham player Jack Rutter captained a squad featuring ex-Liverpool player Sean Highdale and ex-Tranmere forward Ollie Nugent, who plays for Chester.

England captain Wayne Rooney sent the squad a good luck message prior to the tournament - and it appeared they would need it in a tough Pool A also featuring Ireland and Ukraine, the Paralympic champions in 2004 and 2008.

Britain's best performance was bronze in 1984 and they were seventh at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games, while Brazil were third at last year's World Championships at St George's Park.

Leandro Goncalves do Amaral gave Brazil an early lead and Maycon Ferreira de Almeida doubled the advantage by following up his own shot which had hit the post before the half-time interval.

Goalkeeper Giles Moore made some crucial saves, while Crossen struck a post with a vicious shot.

Britain did cut the deficit three minutes after the restart when David Porcher, who plays for Preston Athletic in Scotland's Lowland League, struck a fine equaliser.

Porcher made space for himself on the edge of the Brazil box and curled in a left-footed shot off the post.

Crossen came close with six minutes left when he brought the ball down on the edge of the Brazil box and curled it narrowly outside the post with his right foot.

But Britain could not find an equaliser as Brazil held on.

The velodrome will be the location for the first British medals of the Paralympics as shooters Karen Butler and Lorraine Lambert failed to qualify in the women's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1.

Dame Sarah Storey's bid for a 12th Paralympic gold - a British record for a female - began with a world record in the C5 individual pursuit.

Team-mate Crystal Lane also reached the final, guaranteeing a gold and silver medal for Britain.

Lane finished in 3mins 48.802secs - 17 seconds slower than Storey.

Megan Giglia had earlier clocked a world record of 4:03.544 in the C1-2-3 3km individual pursuit to advance quickest by more than eight seconds, and Steve Bate and Adam Duggleby secured another world record in the 4km pursuit to also reach the final.

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Great Britain's Adam Duggleby (pilot) and Steve Bate celebrate at in Rio after breaking the

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Sep 9, 2016
Words:464
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