Neymar's penalty shootout strike wins Olympic gold for Brazil
By James Dale
Last Updated: 23/08/16 4:50pm
Neymar scored the decisive penalty as Brazil claimed Olympic gold with a tense shootout win over Germany at the Maracana.
The Brazilian No 10, who missed the 7-1 World Cup humiliation at the hands of Germany in Belo Horizonte two years ago, scored a stunning free-kick in normal time before dispatching the winning penalty in front of more than 80,000 fans.
Usain Bolt watched on from the stands as the two sides - with nine World Cup titles between them - played out a 1-1 draw after extra time in which Germany's captain Max Meyer had brought his side level after Neymar's opener.
However, it was Neymar - who missed the Copa America earlier this summer in order to play at the Games - who proved the tournament's decisive player to win his country their first football gold medal and their sixth of this year's Olympics.
Bayer Leverkusen's Julian Brandt, who roamed in from the right-hand side throughout the contest, was the first to send a gasp around the Maracana in the 10th minute, curing a long-range effort against the bar after good work from Arsenal midfielder Serge Gnabry down the left wing.
Brazil then dominated the opening period of the game without causing Germany goalkeeper Timo Horn too many problems, barring Neymar's set-pieces which repeatedly posed danger - he repeatedly earned free-kicks as the Germans swarmed around the Barcelona forward from the outset.
And in the 26th minute Brazil's favourite son produced a moment befitting of the occasion, punishing the opposition after again being fouled around the penalty area by curling a superb free-kick in off the underside of the bar to score his fourth goal of the tournament.
Meyer almost responded immediately for Germany, first inadvertently with a free-kick of his own that was deflected amongst a crowd of players in the box before finding its way onto the Brazil crossbar once again, and then with a volley from the resulting corner, which was well saved by goalkeeper Weverton down to his right.
While Neymar was taking centre-stage, even attempting an audacious rainbow flick, Germany struck the woodwork for the third time before the break as Sven Bender stooped low to head Brandt's out-swinging free-kick onto the frame of the goal.
The Germany attacks continued after the break, and in the 59th minute the Maracana was silenced as the game's other captain Meyer expertly converted Jeremy Toljan's low cross into the bottom corner. Brazil, frenetic in both attack and defence, failed to deal with the German right-back's overlap and the Hoffenheim player was given the time to pick out Meyer to level things up.
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Brazil took the game to Germany as the second half wore on. Renato Augusto, who was excellent in midfield, set up new Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus shortly after after breaking down the right flank, but Jesus could only direct his effort just wide of the post. Neymar then sparked into life again to put through Felipe Anderson - who was about to pull the trigger when through one-on-one before Lukas Klostermann made a last-ditch tackle.
Into extra time Meyer picked out Brandt with a perfectly weighted diagonal pass and the 20-year-old looked to lob Weverton with the outside of his foot but saw his effort drift just over the bar. Felipe Anderson then had the chance to settle the tie in the second period, but poked his effort at the onrushing Horn after Neymar's through ball.
It took penalties to decide the outcome, and after Matthias Ginter, Gnabry, Brandt and Süle scored for Germany, and Renato Augusto, Marquinhos, Rafinha and Luan also converted their spot kicks, it was substitute Grischa Proemel who saw his effort saved by Weverton and left Neymar to fire Brazil to glory - coolly planting his effort in the top corner.
Brazil: Weverton (6); Zeca (6), Rodrigo Caio (6), Marquinhos (6), Renato Augusto (8), Douglas Santos (7), Luan (7), Gabriel Barbosa (6), Neymar (8), Gabriel Jesus (6), Walace (6)
Used subs: Felipe Anderson (6), Rafinha (6)
Germany: Horn (6); Toljan (7), Ginter (6), Süle (6), Klostermann (6), S. Bender (6), Brandt (7), L. Bender (6), Meyer (C) (8), Gnabry (7), Selke (6).
Used subs: Proemel (6), Petersen (6), Christiansen (6)
Man of the match: Neymar