August 7, 2021 9:24:05 pm
From the World Cup to Olympics, Brazil’s men are champions again in Yokohama 19 years apart.
Malcom scored in the 108th minute in extra time to give Brazil a 2-1 win over Spain on Saturday to defend Olympic soccer gold on the scene of its last world title in 2002.
It’s a third straight Olympic soccer medal for Brazil after also collecting bronze in 2012. But Spain’s quest to emulate its 1992 run to gold goes on — despite six members of the starting lineup coming straight from the run to the European Championship.
They got the exemptions from their clubs to come to Japan that Neymar could not secure from Paris Saint-Germain.
Even Malcolm was only a late addition to the squad after Brazil convinced Zenit St. Petersburg to release the 24-year-old forward as an injury replacement. Malcom, who came off the bench for extra time, held off Jesus Vallejo before racing forward and seeing his shot from a tight angle deflect off goalkeeper Unai Simon’s left boot and fly into the net.
Where winning men’s soccer gold at the Olympics ranks in a career depends on the rest of a player’s medal collection.
At 38, Dani Alves came to the Olympics eager to be an Olympic champion. Now the winner’s medal joins ones form the Copa America, Champions League and league title wins in Spain, Italy and France.
Certainly for Richarlison coming to Japan was deemed worth it, despite playing four weeks ago in the Copa America final — losing to Argentina.
Even FIFA, on its Twitter feed, called Richarlison’s workload “insane” — highlighting his 20 games in under three months in four competitions on three continents, covering the end of the Premier League season with Everton and World Cup qualifying with Brazil before the Copa America.
The chance to take the lead in this final was squandered by Richarlison sending a penalty high over the crossbar in the 36th minute.
Brazil went into halftime in front thanks to Matheus Cunha scoring in stoppage time.
Claudinho’s cross from the left flank was kept alive by Alves and the 38-year-old defender hooked back into the area. As it dropped down, Cunha made the connection and struck low into the net.
Richarlison was starting to celebrate extending Brazil’s lead seven minutes into the second half.
But after being released by Cunha, Richarlison only had Simon to beat, but the deflection off the goalkeeper sent the shot off the underside of the crossbar — and away from danger for Spain.
And the Spanish tied it in the 61st minute after a well-worked move down the right flank which ended in across from substitute Carlos Soler being volleyed in by Mikel Oyarzabal.
Spain hit the crossbar twice late in regulation time — from Oscar Gil and Bryan Gil. The failure to find the target meant they ended up with silver — just like at the 2000 Olympics.
And it was Brazil celebrating boisterously wrapped in flags, creating its own atmosphere. The only fans allowed were members of the Olympic delegation with a crowd excluded because of the pandemic in the stadium about 45 minutes from Tokyo.
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