Germany overcome Sweden to take football gold
Germany won their first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s football with a superior second half performance to beat Sweden 2-1 at the Maracanã stadium, while Canada defeated Brazil 2-1 in the bronze match.
Germany scored two goals in the second half. Although the Swedes got a goal back, they could not snatch an equaliser to take the game into extra time. The win was Germany’s sixth unbeaten match in the tournament and lifts them into an elite group alongside the United States and Norway as the only teams to win both the women's world cup and the Olympics.
“This is something completely new, so this is definitely a new summit for German women’s football,” said German coach Silvia Neid, who is retiring after the Olympics. “I really don’t have words to describe this, this is what you have earned through your hard work over weeks and months. It’s really crazy when you get to the end. When you have finally reached your goal it’s pure joy.”
Sweden, who scored just three goals in their five games before the final, started surprisingly positively. Germany began to impose themselves as the match went on. The best chance of the half fell to Anja Mittag after 25 minutes. Leonie Maier’s curling shot was parried by the Swedish keeper and the ball fell to Mittag just yards from goal but she blasted the ball high and wide.
Germany took the lead three minutes into the second half. Dzsenifer Maroszan received a cross on the edge of the box and had time to steady herself before curling a perfect strike into the top right-hand corner of the net.
Sweden’s own goal gave Germany a 2-0 lead. Sara Daebritz’s free kick from 20 yards smacked the post and Sweden’s Linda Sembrandt tried to clear but instead kneed the ball into her own net from just a few yards. Sweden reacted almost immediately and just five minutes later Stina Blackstenius pulled them back into the game from Olivia Schough’s cross. Schough had a great chance to equalise three minutes from time but her shot was blocked just yards from goal.
Sweden’s coach Pia Sundhage, won the Olympic title in the women’s tournament as coach of USA in 2008 and 2012, said: “I think we have won the silver medal, not lost the gold. I am very proud of the way we played defensively and offensively. Unfortunately we created some chances but we could not put them away. We were so close, but congratulations to Germany.”
Germany did not qualify for the Olympics in 2012 but won the bronze the last three times they played, in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Sweden had never won an Olympic medal in women’s football before, but reached the final after a surprise victory over Brazil in a penalty shootout.
Canada beat hosts Brazil to bronze
17-year-old Deanne Rose’s star performance helped Canada beat Brazil 2-1 and ensure their second consecutive bronze medal in the women's football competition. Rose, the youngest player in the Canadian squad, got the opening goal after 25 minutes when she was on hand to side-foot home a low cross from Ashley Lawrence, after the defender had run half the length of the pitch on a quick counter-attack. Seven minutes into the second half, captain Christine Sinclair, playing for Canada for the 250th time, made it 2-0.
Brazil, who won silver in 2004 and 2008, looked tired after a punishing semi-final defeat against Sweden after extra time and penalties in Rio de Janeiro just three days ago. The host nation pushed forward as the game went. Beatriz pulled a goal back 11 minutes from time. But the Canadians were worthy winners, creating more chances as they hit the woodwork once in each half.
The final’s star player Rose said: “It was a very fun game for me. The team did well, all we needed was each other. Having this medal around my neck is so overwhelming, I am loving it so much.”