Almanac Olympics: Brazil retain the gold medal in Tokyo


Olympic Rings


The title holders, Brazil, led by the irrepressible Dani Alves beat Spain by two goals to one in the final match of the men’s football tournament last night. The match came alive after a cautious start. Diego Carlos cleared off his own goal line for Brazil in the 16th minute, while at the other end Matheus Cunha tested the Spanish keeper Unai Simon with a low shot. Twenty-two minutes later the keeper rushed off his line to intercept a ball intended for Cunha but caught the striker instead. After a VAR review Australian referee Chris Beath confirmed a penalty kick, but Richarlison, the tournament’s leading scorer blasted the ball high over the bar.


Cunha made up for his fellow striker’s miss when he got on the end of an excellent low cross from Brazil skipper, veteran Dani Alves, and buried it past the Spanish keeper.


Mikel Oyarzabal got the Spanish equaliser in the 61st minute. Carlos Soler broke on the right wing and Oyarzabal met his cross with a fierce volley that just flew into the net.


The woodwork was struck repeatedly by both sides and both goalkeepers kept out the rest of the on-target efforts.


Once again a closely fought game went into extra-time after the exchange of goals in the first ninety minutes.


Brazil brought on Malcom as a substitute at the start of extra-time. A long diagonal ball from Dani Alves found him out on the left wing and clear of the Spanish defence. This allowed Malcom to cut in and fire a shot that Spanish keeper Unai could only deflect with his leg and the ball looped into the net for what proved to be the decisive goal. That was in the 108th minute.


Spain had scored several of their goals very late in previous games including their single strike against Australia in the second group match. Brazil knew that they would be under pressure for the time remaining. So it proved and Brazil keeper Santos and his defence had some hairy moments, even when they had eleven men behind the ball. This time Spain could not conjure up a lifesaving opportunity and Brazil could celebrate another gold medal.


Australian referee Chris Beath took charge of the final and did an excellent job. Australian audiences only saw the latter stages of the game, but there was enough quality in that time to indicate that this was a game worthy of the final.


In the bronze medal match on Friday, Mexico overcame the host team, Japan, by three goals to one. Mexico have an excellent recent record at this level, winning the gold medal in London in 2012. This time, goals by Sebastian Cordova, Johan Vasquez and Alexis Vega secured the victory. Mitoma Kaoru scored a late consolation for Japan.


The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE


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