Olympics: Brazil, Mexico to play for gold medal in men’s soccer
By Dialogo August 08, 2012
LONDON – Mexico and Brazil have a chance on Aug. 11 to accomplish something neither has been able to do in their illustrious soccer histories: win an Olympic gold medal.
Both teams secured a berth in the final at Wembley Stadium by soundly disposing of Asian countries in the semifinals on Aug. 7.
Mexico, which has never medaled in soccer at the summer games, is assured of ending that streak and earning no worse than a silver after rallying for a 3-1 win over Japan. Meantime, Brazil, which has won two silver and two bronze medals in its Olympic history, continued its dream of occupying the top spot on the medal podium by pounding South Korea 3-0.
“The President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, has called the players and congratulated them,” Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena told reporters. “This is special, this is emotional, but the most important match is yet to come. Is it the best result in Mexico's history? I don't know. But I understand the happiness of Mexico, which is a football country, and they must be partying tonight.”
Mexico found itself trailing early to a team that had yet to concede a goal in the tournament, but midfielder Marco Fabián headed home the equalizer, snapping Japan’s shutout streak at 408 minutes. In the second half, forward Oribe Peralta put his team ahead for good in the 65th minute with a blast from just outside the 18-yard box. Forward Javier Cortés secured the win in the third minute of stoppage time when he pushed the ball past the keeper and into the far side of the goal to cap the scoring.
“I have never scored a goal that went so close to the top corner,” Peralta told reporters of his game-winning goal. “That goal represented everything we tried to do today because I fought for the ball, I got it back and I shot with all my strength.”
Meantime, Brazil took a lead against South Korea into halftime thanks to a close-range score by midfielder Rômulo. Forward Leandro Damião added goals in the 57th and 64th minutes to leave no doubt about his team’s third trip to the final with a 3-0 win.
“I know what I’m here and it’s what I’ve always done – and that’s to help the team score and keep on running, regardless of whether I’m finding the back of the net or not,” Damião told reporters.