Brazil beat Germany in a penalty shoot-out to end their long wait for an Olympic Games football gold medal in the most dramatic of circumstances at an emotionally charged Maracanã on Saturday (20 August).
The hosts’ talisman Neymar stepped up to score the winning spot-kick and seal a 5-4 shoot-out win after goalkeeper Weverton had saved Germany’s fifth penalty, taken by Nils Petersen.
Neymar, who fell to his knees and broke down in tears after sinking the decisive penalty, had initially put Brazil ahead in the 26th minute with a spectacular free-kick, which was cancelled out by Max Meyer’s second-half equaliser for Germany.
As well as ending a quest for football gold that had become a Brazilian national obsession, the hosts’ victory also went some way to healing the deep wounds inflicted by the last meeting between these two sides – a 7-1 victory for Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final.
Although Brazil coach Rogerio Micale played down pre-match talk of targeting “revenge” for that defeat, the whistles that greeted the Germans in their pre-match warm-up indicated that memories of that harrowing night in Belo Horizonte were still raw for many fans.
Yet despite the inevitable parallels drawn between the two games, on the field they had little in common. There was not a single player on either side who took part in the match two years ago.