August 11, 2012
GOOD AS GOLD
Mexico stuns Brazil, wins 1st Olympic title
By Michael Lewis
LONDON -- Mexico made history by becoming the first CONCACAF team to win an Olympic gold medal, defeating favorites Brazil, 2-1, before a near capacity crowd at Wembley Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
|Oribe Peralta scored both goals to lead Mexico to a 2-1 win over Brazil for the Gold Medal.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
Oribe Peralta, who plays for Santos Laguna in the Mexico First Division, struck twice -- once in each half to give El Tri a two-goal advantage. Five-time World Cup champion Brazil has never won gold, taking three silver medals, including this one.
Already assured of a silver medal, El Tri combined impeccable goalkeeping by Jose Corona, excellent positioning in the first half and solid defending in the second half and to secure the historic victory in front of 86,162.
The Mexicans accomplished this feat without their best player, forward Giovani dos Santos, who tore a thigh muscle in the 3-1 semifinal win over Japan on Tuesday.
The gold medal climaxed an incredible 14 months for the entire Mexican National Team program. Last summer El Tri captured the FIFA Under-17 World Cup and finished third in the U-20 world championships.
And oh yes, the full national side defeated the United States, 4-2, in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup final at the Rose Bowl last June.
The fate of Brazil coach Mano Menezes has yet to be determined as he brought essentially the National Team that will try to win the 2014 World Cup to England. The Brazilians made winning an Olympic gold medal their top priority and have fired coaches in the past for failing to reach that goal.
First-half sub Hulk made the final three minutes of stoppage time interesting as he scored from seven yards 20 seconds into added time. Oscar came close with an equalizing goal three minutes into stoppage time, but his four-yard header went over the crossbar. About 30 seconds later referee Mark Clattenburg (Great Britain) whistled time and the Mexicans celebrated by dancing with the coaching staff at midfield.
The Mexicans took a shock 1-0 lead with the fastest goal of any FIFA final, only 29 seconds into the match.
Brazilian defender Rafael gave the ball away to Javier Aquino, who flicked the ball to Oribe Peralta. Peralta got a step on his man and unleashed facebook.com
U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna had scored 31 seconds into a first-round match in the 1996 Summer Games, a 3-1 loss to Argentina.
The Mexicans surprisingly dominated for long stretches in the opening half as Brazil looked sluggish. They kept the South Americans pinned in their half of the field. El Tri certainly was helped by Brazil continually giving the ball away.
When the Brazilians finally did go on attack, they did not take their chances well.
Their best opportunity early on came in the 20th minute, when Oscar fired an eight-yard shot straight to goalkeeper Jose Corona.
In an attempt to pump some life into his team's attack, Brazil coach Mano Menezes inserted Hulk into the lineup for Alex Sandro in the 32nd minute. Some six minutes later, the moved almost turned genius as Hulk hammered a 36-yard blast that Corona needed two hands to knock away.
The Brazilians came knocking again in the 41st minute when Marcelo found some room to shoot in the box, but sent his attempt wide left.
After a poor Mexican clearance in the 45th minute, Hulk tried again with a header from atop the box, but Corona had a relatively easy time catching his attempt.
It certainly was a disappointing first half for Neymar, who lacked the creative flair that has made him one of the world's most coveted players.
A revived Brazilian side came out in the second half and dominated for periods of time, but could not find the back of the net.
Corona was at the top of his game when he came out for a left-wing cross at the top of the top, punched the ball away while colliding with Neymar, who was forced out of the game for a couple of minutes. He eventually had tissue or cotton stuffed up his left nostril to prevent bleeding.
Marco Fabian could have sewed things up for El Tri in the 64th minute as he found himself one-one-one with Gabriel in the penalty area and sent a bicycle kick from 12 yards that caromed off the crossbar.
The Mexicans came close again as Peralta put the ball into the back of the net five minutes later, but he was called for being offside.
Finally, Peralta gave Mexico some breathing room in the 75th minute, heading in a 10-yard shot for his fourth goal of the competition as Wembley erupted.