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Rio Olympics 2016: Neymar propels Brazil to maiden football gold

Neymar scored a free kick and the decisive penalty to help Brazil win the final against Germany. Photograph: (Getty)

AFP Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Aug 21, 2016, 12.45 AM (IST)

Neymar scored a brilliant goal and the decisive shootout penalty as Brazil buried their World Cup demons by beating Germany in the Olympic football final on Saturday.

The 5-4 penalty win was close. Neymar and his teammates all sank to their knees, many in uncontrollable tears at the centrepiece of a day of 30 gold medals in Rio.

Park In-Bee of South Korea won the first women's Olympic golf gold for 116 years, the United States routed Spain in the women's basketball final. Even scandal-tainted Russia won four golds while losing a silver from 2012 because of another doping case.

But Brazil came to a standstill because of Neymar and football.

Supermarket checkout clerks watched the match on their mobile phones, taxi drivers gathered around any available screen to see the Selecao take on Germany, and seek revenge for a 7-1 humiliation by their opponents in a World Cup semi-final two years ago.

In front of 78,000 people, the biggest crowd of the Rio Olympics, Neymar twisted a free kick past German goalkeeper Timo Horn to give Brazil a first-half lead.

German captain Max Meyer swept home Jeremy Toljan's cross to equalise and then taunted the Maracana stadium crowd by kissing the number seven on his shirt.

The game went through extra time and eight penalties in deadlock until Germany's Nils Petersen missed his spot kick.

Barcelona star Neymar rifled the final penalty into the corner after a half-faint and a whole nation erupted in celebration.

Victory may not get Brazil into the top 10 of the Olympic medals table at the end of competition on Sunday, but it was the one gold the country wanted. Street celebrations erupted after the final whistle.

The 17 days of competition end on Sunday with the United States, already on 40 golds and past 1,000 golds in their overall history, certain to top the table.

Britain with 26 golds were hoping to hold off China, just two behind.

(AFP)
 

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