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Mexico stun Brazil to take gold
Brazil 1 Mexico 2
Mexico pulled off the biggest upset of this footballing Olympics as they downed the favourites Brazil by two goals to one at Wembley this afternoon in front of 86,162 fans. So once again Brazil has faltered when expected to triumph. This was no fluke. Mexico deserved to win and might have got home by a bigger margin. A goal in the first minute and another in the 75th minute could easily have been accompanied by two more as Marco Fabian hit the bar with an overhead kick, and Peralta ran offside before putting the ball in the net in 69 minutes. Brazil’s goal did not come till the first minute of added time at the end of the game and while this ensured a fraught spell, Mexico saw it out comfortably in the end.
For Brazil, Sandro of FC Porto started while his team-mate Hulk was on the bench. Gabriel got the nod in goal. Mexico’s top scorer, Giovani dos Santos was injured and did not come up for the game. Hector Herrera took his place. Mark Clattenburg, the British referee, took charge.
Mexico got the perfect start when Manchester United full-back Rafael dwelt on the ball out on the right. He was robbed by Marco Fabian who pushed it inboard to Javier Aquino. Aquino in turn released Oribe Peralta and the striker placed a fierce but directed shot just inside the left hand post. That incident took longer to describe than to happen and the ball was in the net only 30 seconds after kick-off.
Mexico, not surprisingly settled more quickly and were happy to play the ball out of defence but often then resorted to long balls forward for Peralta to chase. When they did continue to keep possession they looked very dangerous and it was Brazil which were struggling to put some rhythm back into their game. In 20 minutes Leandro did get to the bye-line and his cross gave Oscar a sniff, but the playmaker poked at the ball and Mexican skipper Jose Corona saved. On the half-hour the ineffective Sandro was replaced by Hulk, whose physical presence and shooting power were soon evident. In 38 minutes his shot was spilled by the keeper and Leandro almost got to the loose ball, but Corona deflected the shot for a corner. Marcelo had been looking dangerous down the left for Brazil and he finished off a good combined move with a shot which shaved the post.
Neymar in particular lifted his game in the early stages of the second half, going past players at speed and shooting with venom whenever he had the chance. In 53 minutes Oscar sent over a tantalizing cross but keeper Corona made it his ball flattening Neymar in the process. The young star resumed after treatment but he was not the same player thereafter. In 72 minutes following a flick on from a corner the little Fabian rose unchallenged to head just over the bar. This showed the fragility of the Brazilian defence.
Then in 75 minutes Mexico got a soft free kick out on the right when Marcelo and Fabian both went up for a header. Fabian struck it sweetly enough and Peralta ran across the defence and found a gap to head past Gabriel. Mexico and its supporters were in delirium, but the players soon regained sanity and continued to repel the increasingly frenetic Brazilian attempts to salvage a result. Hulk was the main focus of the better moves and his cross from the right should have been converted by Oscar who seemed to duck under the ball. Then the big man from Porto took matters into his own hands and thrashed the ball past Corona from close range. Then he made another break only for Oscar to head the last chance over the bar.
South Korea received their bronze medals at the end of the game, followed by Brazil with the silver and the Mexican players who thus won the country’s first gold medal of the London 2012 Olympic Games. At least 17 of the Koreans did. Park Jongwoo was rubbed out for raising a poster saying his home island was Korean not Japanese.
The elongated medal ceremony at the end was further prolonged by what appeared to be a funeral march past the photographers. So unlike the women who celebrated with their fans, the men finished with a memorial shoot. By the time the Mexicans could do a lap of honour nearly all the fans had gone home. The players need to take control of their own occasion.
Captions for pics:
Javier Aquino of Mexico takes on Rafael of Brazil.
Marco Fabian (8) of Mexico is upended.
Two goal hero Oribe Peralta is under the sombrero behind Nestor Vidrio (15)
The Mexican victory wave.
The Mexican flag on top.
Seventeen South Koreans celebrate their bronze medal.
All photos Roy Hay.