Sports desk – The Barsa star fired his country Saturday to win the medal it wanted most for years.
Neymar scored the clinching goal for Brazil with a nifty penalty kick in a victory that touched off celebrations all across the soccer-obsessed nation.
Brazil beat Germany 5-4 on penalties to clinch the Gold medal at the final of the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s football tournament, after the game finished 1-1 in extra time.
This was the first gold for Brazil in Olympic soccer. It provided a lift to a beleaguered nation in the process.
Captain Neymar opened the scoring in the first half with a free-kick, but Max Meyer was able to equalise with a penalty right before the hour mark.
Neither side were able to break the deadlock as the game went on into extra-time, with the clash proceeding to be decided via penalty shootout.
And it came down to Neymar to net the winning spot kick, after Nils Petersen had his saved by Weverton.
The win boosted the spirits of a country that has been dealing with a recession, political turmoil, health scares and rampant crime — not to mention the lingering effects of a 7-1 rout against Germany in the 2014 World Cup.
“Beloved nation, the gold is ours,” Brazilian goalie Weverton said.
The soccer championship headlined a golden day in the Rio Olympics, featuring a full slate of track and field, the future of boxing on display in a medal bout and a Hall of Fame golfer pulling off an impressive comeback, reported Associated Press.
Brazil’s run to gold in soccer was far from easy, struggling in the first round under the intense pressure of a nation that desperately wanted an Olympic gold.
In the final, Neymar not only clinched the win in penalty kicks but scored the team’s lone goal in regulation. Brazil won 1-1 (5-4 shootout).
Neymar did it before an electric crowd that featured nine-time gold medalist Usain Bolt. When Neymar scored his first goal, he emulated Bolt’s “To the World” pose.
The Germany-Brazil soccer featured nearly entirely different rosters from the 2014 World Cup that marked a low point for Brazilian sports. Olympic soccer features under-23 teams while the World Cup is for the top national squad. But the match still had huge significance for Brazil, which had never won gold, reported the agency.