The Olympic soccer competition concluded in Wembley Stadium today. Mexico played famous Brazil in front of more than 80,000 fans and walked away victorious, beating Brazil 2-1. Neither team had ever won an Olympic gold medal for soccer; Mexico had never even been in an Olympic soccer final before. Clearly, it was bound to be a thrilling and historic game, and these two great soccer nations didn't disappoint.
South Korea and Japan played an equally wild game yesterday. South Korea secured bronze medal status, beating Japan 2-0 when the teams met in Cardiff. It was a desperate, foul-heavy game with wild collisions, reckless tackles, plenty of yellow cards and even some blood. Japan's Kazuya Yamamura played with a giant bandage wrapped around his head after getting elbowed violently in the face. But, hey, at least he kept playing! (That giant bandage was pretty punk rock anyway, I'd say.)
After beautiful goals from Park Chu-Young and Koo Ja-Cheol, South Korea won the game and earned the country's very first Olympic medal in soccer, making yesterday an historic day for both the sport and the nation. Notably, the Koreans earned a priceless bonus in addition to the bronze: they've been exempt from mandatory military service for medaling in the Olympics and bringing honor to their country. Yeah. It's no wonder they played with such gusto.
The Brazilian and Mexican teams played with considerably lower stakes today, but of course, they still desperately wanted to win gold. Brazil came in with the advantage, having a stellar team of celebrities like Oscar, Hulk and Neymar. Mexico was playing without one of their top players, Giovani dos Santos, due to a hamstring injury suffered in the semifinal against Japan, so the odds were stacked against the younger team.
But Mexico wasn't willing to give up their golden dreams, so when the game began, Oribe Peralta fired the ball into Brazil's goal without hesitation. The crowd (and Brazil) barely knew what hit them. There were only 29 seconds on the clock! It was a gorgeous way to begin the gold medal game, and although neither team could score again during that first half, it set an exciting tone for the final soccer game of the 2012 London Olympics.
In the second half, Brazil's Marcelo regrettably fouled Mexico's Hector Herrera, leading to a free kick for Mexico's Marco Fabian. Fabian launched the ball toward Peralta, who headed the ball into Brazil's net and scored the second goal of the game. Mexico had a 2-0 lead! Fans were celebrating in the stands, realizing that as the clock ticked on, a victory for Mexico was increasingly close on the horizon.
Three minutes of time were added after the first 90, and the Brazilians were determined to use every second, with Hulk scoring a late-game goal and making the last 90 seconds excruciatingly suspenseful. With seconds on the clock, Oscar tried to head the ball into Mexico's net to tie the game, but it couldn't be done. He missed the goal and lost Brazil's last scoring opportunity.
And with that, Mexico's men won their first gold medal for soccer, and they beat the incredible Brazil to boot, establishing themselves as the soccer world's new behemoths. Congratulations to Mexico.Watching the Olympics on TV? Check out the BuddyTV Guide app's new "2012 Olympics" quicklist -- it puts all the Olympics TV coverage in the palm of your hand, organized by time and your personal cable/satellite setup.Sarah WatsonContributing Writer(Image courtesy of NBC)