Brazil beat Spain to win Olympic gold
Malcom’s extra-time winner settles a highly entertaining final
A Seleção become just the fifth team to top the podium in successive editions
Brazil are Olympic gold medallists once again after Malcom’s extra-time strike secured a dramatic 2-1 victory over Spain in Yokohama.
The reigning champions were good value for this hard-earned win, having dominated the bulk of an exciting encounter in which Matheus Cunha and Mikel Oyarzabal grabbed the other goals.
Brazil 2-1 Spain (AET) International Stadium Yokohama
A game between the tournament’s outstanding teams lived up to pre-match expectations, with Brazil the livelier and more purposeful of the two sides from the first whistle.
Richarlison, the tournament’s top scorer, missed a golden chance to give the South Americans the opening goal their enterprising start had merited when, following a stuttering run-up, he blazed wildly over from the spot.
Undeterred, Brazil continued to press forward and received their reward shortly before half-time when some less-than-stellar Spanish defending allowed Matheus Cunha to steal in and slot coolly past the exposed Unai Simon.
Spain rallied in the second half though, and after Simon had come to their rescue by deflecting a delightful Richarlison effort on to the underside of the crossbar, La Roja drew level.
Carlos Soler claimed the assist with a deep, inch-perfect cross from the right, and Oyarzabal dispatched it in style, lashing a ferocious left-foot volley into the roof of the net.
With Brazil rattled, Spain might have won it in the closing stages of the regulation 90 as their two Gils – first Oscar, then Bryan – rattled the Brazilian crossbar.
But Andre Jardine’s side rediscovered their mojo in extra time and claimed the winner 12 minutes from the end, when Malcom scampered through on to a sublime Antony pass and slipped the ball beyond Simon.
A match-winning goal in any circumstance is well worth savouring. But to grab one in an Olympic gold medal match, in extra time, at the site of your country’s most recent FIFA World Cup™ win, is the stuff of footballing fairy tales. Yet that is just the kind of storybook ending that Malcom wrote for himself by finding the energy to break beyond Jesus Vallejo and break Spanish hearts.
When it comes to Brazil’s U-23 side, Matheus Cunha is quite simply a goalscoring machine. Injured after scoring Brazil’s winner in the quarter-final win over Egypt, he missed the semi-final and had been a fitness doubt for today’s decider. But any doubts over his readiness were dispelled when he muscled his way through to slot home that ice-cool opener – his 21st goal in 24 appearances for this Seleção side.
Gold medal winners at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, Brazil have become just the fifth team to top the podium in successive editions. Great Britain (1908, 1912), Uruguay (1924, 1928), Hungary (1964, 1968) and Argentina (2004, 2008) are the others. Today’s gold is also A Seleção’s seventh Olympic football medal overall; no other nation has won more than five.