Coming into its matchup against Germany on Saturday, Brazil had won every single major international soccer tournament except the Olympics. But thanks to its star forward, Brazil finally captured the elusive gold medal at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
As if he had not already done so prior to Saturday, Neymar — who is essentially a rock star in Brazil — stole the hearts of his country in dramatic fashion. The 24-year-old superstar led a revengeful charge against Germany, who crushed Brazil 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
The match was knotted at zero for the first 26 minutes, until Brazil’s captain decided to put on his superman cape. Neymar scored the only goal in the first half in the 27th minute with a stunning free kick, which curled over the German defense and its goalkeeper, before ricocheting off the top of the crossbar and into the net.
However, Germany answered back in the second half. Jeremy Toljan delivered a cross into the box in the 59th minute, which was received and then put into the net by Maximilian Meyer.
Both teams would not score for the rest of the second half, resulting in extra time. Despite a few scoring chances on both sides, especially from Germany’s star forward Serge Gnabry , who had six goals in the tournament coming into Saturday, neither side was able to score in extra time. Brazil and Germany went to a second extra time period but still, no goals.
Although there was not much scoring in the first 120 minutes, there was plenty of offense in the shootout. Both teams went 4-for-4 before Nils Peterson, who like Gnabry, had six goals in the tournament, was denied by Brazil goalkeeper Weverton.
This set the stage for Neymar to bring it home in front of his entire country. And like the hero he is expected to be, Neymar delivered in a storybook finish.
Neymar gave a hesitated run-up and drilled the ball into the net, making the game-winning shot before falling to the ground and crying tears of joy.
Brazil’s fans as well as the players were crying and chanting happily for minutes as they celebrated the country’s first Olympic gold medal in soccer. Germany was of course, disappointed but greeted the crowd to show its appreciation to the home fans and the rest of fans in attendance. Germany’s goalkeeper, Timo Horn, was the last German player to leave the pitch, as he exited through the tunnel with a flushed, red face.
On another note, Neymar is such a hot topic right now, that he has got longtime college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, a guy who has nothing to do with soccer, praising him.
If you have Dickie V shouting you out, you’re a pretty big deal, baby!