Brazil, Mexico make statements to end London Games
By Dialogo August 13, 2012
LONDON – It’s Brazil’s turn now.
As the Games of the XXX Olympiad concluded on Aug. 12, the international sporting world turned its eyes toward Brazil, which will become home to three of the biggest competitions in the next four years – the 2013 Confederations Cup, the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
But before the millions watched the closing ceremonies, Brazil and Mexico provided exclamation points to the London Games. Brazil’s women’s indoor volleyball team claimed gold and the country’s men’s team took silver. Mexico’s men’s soccer team capped a dominating run by winning its first Olympic gold with a 2-1 win over Brazil at historic Wembley Stadium.
El Tri was paced by dynamic striker Oribe Peralta who scored both goals, including one in the first minute off of a takeaway in front of the Brazil 18-yard box. His second came on a header in the 75th minute to give his team a two-goal advantage, all but sealing the top spot on the medal podium.
Mexico was able to routinely frustrate the Brazilian side by maintaining possession and force all pressure to the wings and into poor shooting angles. The result was a phenomenal defensive effort and the country’s first-ever medal in Olympic soccer.
“We knew that the Brazilian players lose their heads really quickly when you keep the ball away from them,” Peralta told reporters. “That’s what we managed to do and, building from that basis, we were able to keep our shape and calmly play our football.”
Mexico’s victory over Brazil ended what had been a history of frustration at the Olympics. In its nine previous appearances – Amsterdam in 1928, London 1948, Tokyo 1964, Mexico City 1968, Munich 1972, Montreal 1976, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Athens 2004 – the team advanced out of pool play three times, reaching the semifinals in 1968 and the quarterfinals in 1972 and 1996.
Meantime, Brazil was denied it first gold at the Olympics – the only major international tournament it hasn’t won. The five-time World Cup champions pulled within a goal in the 91st minute on a blast from striker Hulk, but couldn’t get another quality shot on frame before the end of stoppage time.
The Seleção now has three silvers and two bronzes after falling just short of the golden prize.
“We all know that we need to win the gold,” Brazil’s coach Mano Menezes told reporters. “Brazil has to win every tournament it plays, it needs to win every match it plays, even if it’s a friendly - and this time even more because it’s something the nation has never won before.’’
In women’s volleyball, it was another Olympics, another upset in the gold medal match for the Brazilian women.
The South Americans stunned the top-seeded United States in the final for the second consecutive Summer Games with a 3-1 victory. The Americans appeared to be on their way to an easy win after taking the first set 25-11, but Brazil rallied to claim the next three sets 25-17, 25-20 and 25-17.
Overall, the Brazilians have reached the semifinals of the event in six straight Olympics dating to Barcelona in 1992. Over that span, the team has claimed two gold medals and two bronzes.
“We felt we lost control in the first set, but we never lost sight of our objectives, and that was to win gold,” Brazil’s Jaqueline Carvalho told reporters. “We knew the U.S. is a great team, that the game would be tough. But we managed to turn it around.'”
Brazil also became the third team to repeat as gold medalists. The Soviet Union won in 1968 and 1972 and Cuba won three straight starting in 1992.
Meantime, Brazil’s men’s volleyball team medaled for the sixth time in eight Olympics, but it wasn’t the color they were hoping.
The top-seeded South Americans fell to Russia in the gold medal match 3-2 after holding a two-sets-to-none lead. Brazil, which earned the distinction of becoming the first team to ever blow a 2-0 lead in a final, dropped the last three games 29-27, 25-22 and 15-9.
Wallace de Souza finished with 27 points for Brazil, which settled for a silver medal for the second straight Summer Games after losing the final to the United States at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“It's hard to tell,” de Souza told reporters when asked what happened. “You train a lot for that every day, you don't believe something like that could happen. You're winning 2-0 and then you start feeling the pressure. We came here to get the gold, but we got the silver.'”