Tears of joy as Brazil beat Germany to football gold
Captain Neymar was in tears after he delivered Brazil’s first Olympic men's football gold medal, scoring the winning penalty in a 5-4 shootout victory over Germany. Nigeria beat Honduras to bronze.
“This is one of the best things that have happened in my life,” Neymar summed up what winning Olympic gold at home meant to him. “I can’t begin to describe my feelings. I have fulfilled my dream and to have fulfilled it in my home country makes me very proud.”
The match finished 1-1 after extra time, with Neymar having put Brazil ahead with a superb free kick in the 27th minute before Germany skipper Maximilian Meyer equalised with a fine strike just before the hour mark.
There were no goals in extra time. The game went to penalties, but despite Germany being known as the kings of shootouts, Nils Petersen was first to miss a spot kick as the fifth taker. Neymar then stepped up to fire home the title winner in front of home fans. The captain's successful kick sparked wild celebrations at the Maracanã.
Brazil coach Rogerio Micale was delighted to finally earn the Olympic gold: “There was a lot of anxiety and tension as I knew we would be facing a strong team in Germany. We had players who were extremely dedicated, professional and with great technical skill. I’ll leave with the sensation of having done my duty. I am sure this will give reason for pride and confidence in the Brazilian people in the national team. We knew there was huge responsibility on the Olympic team because of how important football is to the country.”
Brazil’s men started their football tournament slowly, flirting with elimination in the group stage after two 0-0 draws, but soared to a rousing and successful finale. Brazil had lost the Olympic final three times in 1984, 1988 and 2012 but have now won the only international title to elude them by beating the country who had humiliated them 7-1 in the world cup semi-finals on home soil in 2014.
Third football medal for Nigeria
Nigeria’s footballers secured the country’s first Rio 2016 Olympic Games medal with a 3-2 win over Honduras in the bronze medal match. It’s their third medal after taking gold at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and silver at Beijing 2008.
Sadiq Umar opened the score in the 34th minute after a weighted pass from John Obi Mikel. Aminu Umar put Nigeria 2-0 up just after half-time, converting a rebound. Sadiq Umar got a brace to make it 3-0 with his fourth goal of the tournament. As in the 6-0 defeat by Brazil in their semi-finals, Honduras looked vulnerable in defence. Before scoring, Aminu Umar shot against both the right and the left post and Usman Muhammed put his header over the bar.
Late in the second half, Honduras pressed to get back in the match as Antony Lozano found the net with 19 minutes remaining and Marcelo Pereira benefited from a costly mistake by Daniel Akpeyi to net a late second, but could not equalise. Honduras missed the chance to win their first medal in any sport in 11 Olympic Games appearances.
“I want to say thanks to the players. They did a great job. It is good to take something back home. Having bronze is not easy, we are happy and we have to celebrate. We have to enjoy this moment,” said Nigeria’s coach Samson Siasia.