Brazil Defeats Spain to Win Soccer Gold
It took Brazil 64 years to win their first Olympic gold in football. Five years later, he has his second.
Playing in the same stadium in Yokohama where their national team won the 2002 World Cup final, Brazil reiterated their Olympic title on Saturday by beating Spain, 2-1, in overtime.
Malcom, a 24-year-old forward who plays for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, delivered the winner as a fresh-legged substitute, scoring a long pass in the 108th minute.
Matheus Cunha put Brazil ahead in added time in the first half. After controlling a ball between two Spanish defenders in the penalty area, he found himself inexplicably alone a few yards from goalkeeper Unai Simón and scored a low shot.
Spain responded in the 61st minute with a flawless finish at the far post from Mikel Oyarzabal, one of the few young players called up to the Olympic squad just weeks after helping the Spanish senior team reach the semi-finals of the European Championship.
Oyarzabal’s goal extended their long, hot summer in overtime, where Malcom and Brazil had the final say. By then, Spain’s best players might have just run their race: Pedri, the team’s wonderfully talented 18-year-old midfielder, was playing his 71st game for club and country since the start of last year’s La Liga campaign, a huge workload that had lodged complaints from his club coach, Ronald Koeman of Barcelona.
“It’s too much,” Koeman said. Yet that’s what he did, despite an exhausting and compressed championship schedule and then all but a minute of Spain’s race to the European Championship semifinals.
The medal was Brazil’s seventh at the Olympic tournament, which the country first played in Helsinki in 1952, and came five years after a team led by Neymar won the country’s first gold medal at home in Rio de Janeiro.
His victory also came on familiar ground: Brazil had beaten Germany at Yokohama International Stadium 19 years earlier, in the 2002 World Cup final. Ronaldo scored twice that day for Brazil.
Four years later, Brazil introduced Dani Alves, a young defender who would go on to become one of the most decorated players in football history. Alves’ brilliant career includes league championships in Spain, Italy and France and three Champions League titles with Barcelona.
On Saturday, he added an honor he lacked: an Olympic gold medal.
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