Peralta the predator seals surprising gold for Mexico
Brazil 1-2 Mexico
Two goals from the in-form Oribe Peralta were enough at Wembley Stadium for Mexico to claim a surprising 2-1 win over Brazil in the gold medal match.
Peralta scored one of the quickest goals ever seen at Wembley, with a crisp shot inside the first minute, before a precise header with 14 minutes to go, sealed a stunning gold medal for the North Americans.
Despite a stoppage time consolation from Hulk, Mexico fully deserved their victory.
Once again, Brazil crumbled at a major tournament final, when the gold was there for the taking, continuing their amazing record of not securing first place at an Olympic men’s football tournament.
Brazil were unchanged from the side that emphatically dispatched South Korea in the semi-finals, whilst top scorer for Mexico going into the match, Giovani dos Santos was missing through a knee injury.
They didn’t miss him in this Latin American clash and made a stunning start, inside 28 seconds.
Manchester United’s right-back Rafael carelessly gave possession away and through a deft touch from Javier Aquino, Peralta took his chance in terrific fashion, giving goalkeeper Gabriel no chance.
It was his third goal of the Olympic Games and the quickest in finals history for the competition. In fact, he became only the 13th player to score in the opening minute of an Olympic match of all-time.
The Mexicans then went into a contained game and stern pressure from the underdogs meant the South Americans struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
Once again, it was an example of a fine collection of talented individuals but they didn’t click as a team.
With no urgency in the first half hour, under pressure coach Mano Menezes made an early substitution for tactical reasons, with Hulk replacing Alex Sandro.
Sloppy and hesitant
They finally woke up seven minutes later, with Hulk forcing goalkeeping captain Jose Corona into a save from long distance, before Marcelo shot wide on the stroke of half-time.
The Real Madrid left back was slightly fortunate to survive the half-time whistle, as he was cautioned for a wreckless challenge on Peralta by English referee Mark Clattenburg.
Clattenburg refereed brilliantly throughout, so Team GB did have a consistent performer in the tournament after all.
Brazil were sloppy, showed a lack of cohesion going forward, had no leadership in the middle of the park and their passing was hesitant.
The game began to stretch in the second half and for a while, the Mexicans started to look leggy but found a second wind and rose to the occasion.
On 63 minutes, Brazil got out of jail when Thiago Silva made a horrible error and Marco Fabian got in one-on-one but was delayed by goalkeeper Gabriel, then hit the crossbar with his back to goal.
Peralta then had a goal rightfully disallowed for offside, as the defenders once again, looked like they were having an afternoon nap.
Another great chance came and went for the North Americans, when Fabian headed over the bar from a corner, with Gabriel in no man’s land.
Maybe Mexico had been boosted by previous success in the 1999 Confederations Cup final and in a friendly at senior level in June against their opponents and with 15 minutes left, they wrapped the game up.
Although the free-kick given against Marcelo looked harsh, the Brazilians were caught ball watching from the delivery by Fabian and Peralta had a free header, to seal the match.
Menezes looked frustrated and angry on the touchline, berating the officials on a constant basis.
He threw on Pato and new PSG signing Lucas Moura in an act of desperation and Hulk did well to finish a chance in time added on, drilling a shot underneath Corona.
Then, with seconds remaining, Chelsea new boy, Oscar missed a golden opportunity with a free header but it would have been a total injustice on the North Americans.
Mexico’s previous best at the Olympics had been a journey to the quarter-finals in Atlanta 1996 but they richly deserved this moment of success.
For Brazil, the wait goes on for a men’s Olympic gold medal, the only prize to elude them in their prestigious history.
The main winner is the football competition in general, with over 2.1m people coming in through the turnstiles, smashing the total attendance gate ever at the Olympics.
With fewer red cards, less diving and dissent and more goals than Beijing four years ago, it has been a successful tournament.
And it has a surprising winner but a success that can’t be disputed. This is Mexico’s moment of glory.
By Simon Wright – Follow me on Twitter @Siwri88
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