Neymar wins gold for Brazil after penalty drama
Gold medal final Rio 2016, Maracana - Brazil 1 (Neymar 27) Germany 1 (Meyer 59) - Brazil win the gold medal 5-4 on penalties.
Neymar was Brazil's inspiration and hero as they finally put an end to their long wait to win Olympic Gold with a penalty shoot-out success over Germany in the Maracana.
The Barcelona man has been his country's great hope since bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old back in 2010 and it was fitting that he scored the decisive spot kick to seal a 5-4 triumph after Di Mannschaft's substitute Nils Petersen had missed the ninth kick.
It ensured there was a fairytale end to what will surely go down as the football crazy host country's finest moment of Rio 2016.
Neymar, the Selecao's talismanic captain, had given them the lead when he curled a sensational 25-yard free kick into the top corner on 27 minutes to put them in control.
But Germany deservedly levelled through Max Meyer's well-taken goal just shy of the hour, with the match ending 1-1 after a stalemate in extra-time.
Brazil's victory will be seen by many as a moment of redemption after they were embarrassed 7-1 by the same opponents in the semi final of the Samba Boys' home World Cup just two years ago.
Brazil v Germany scoreboard (Reuters)Reuters
The team line-ups may have been very different given that the Olympics is largely an U23 competition, but the atmosphere certainly had the feeling of a revenge mission inside the Maracana as two nations with nine world titles between them locked horns in search of their first ever Olympic gold.
Neymar was the only player from either squad to feature prominently at the 2014 World Cup in action here, but he was absent through injury for that last four debacle in Belo Horizonte, and showed just how important he is to his country with the type of big-game contribution we have come to expect from him.
Germany will be proud to land silver but may wonder what might have been after hitting the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions in the first half before fading in extra time and settling for the shoot out.
Brazil's redemption and Neymar's stardom. The Selecao and their followers were well aware of the poignancy of facing Germany on home turf just two years on from their World Cup semi final humiliation at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. They were without the injured Neymar that day and many felt his absence was key despite the emphatic scoreline. He's clearly a massive influence and it was no surprise that their revenge bid was a success here because the Barcelona man was present on this occasion.
They can't change what happened in their home World Cup, but this offers some form of solace as they beat what they will perceive as the perfect opposition to land their first ever Olympic gold. Pele remains Brazil's greatest ever, but if Neymar goes on to play a key role in more international success in the future, who knows where it will take him amongst the pantheon of Brazilian greats.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Neymar (Brazil): The nation's great hope. Fans were less than impressed after consecutive 0-0 draws to open the tournament, but the number 10 has grown with each round and proved decisive in this historic success, scoring a wonder goal and clinching the gold with the decisive kick in the shoot out. He will now be forever synonymous with a long overdue Olympic success after the country had been forced to settle for three silver medals in the past.
Neymar (BRA) of Brazil reacts after scoring the last penaltyReuters
10' - OFF THE BAR! Brandt receives a pass from Gnabry from the left and curls a delicious effort from 20 yards that crashes back off the crossbar. Keeper looked well beaten.
14' - BRAZIL CHANCE! Douglas Santos does superbly down the left and cuts it across for Luan who can't guide his volley on target from 10 yards out!
27' - GOAL! Brazil 1-0 Germany. Neymar curls a 25-30-yard free kick over the wall and into the top corner. It's a wonderful effort that kisses the crossbar on its way into the net.
Brazil's forward Neymar (L) celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games men's football gold medal match between Brazil and Germany at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 20, 2016.AFP
32' - GERMANY CHANCE! Two big chances for Germany! The left wing free kick diverts off Marquinhos, onto the bar and out for a corner. From the resulting set piece it falls for Germany once more but Weverton makes a smart save. A melee ensues but Brazil survive!
35' - OFF THE BAR FOR A THIRD TIME! Bender's guided header smacks back off the bar from Brandt's superb right-wing free kick. How unlucky are Germany? Is it Brazil's night?
58' - GOAL! Brazil 1-1 Germany. It's level! Toljan overlaps on the right and fires in a low cutback for Max Meyer who sweeps a first-time into the far corner.
Max Meyer (GER) of Germany celebrates scoring their first goalReuters
65' - BRAZIL CHANCE! Renato Augusto races down the right and lays it into the middle for Gabriel Jesus who slides it just wide under pressure.
84' - GERMANY CHANCE! Germany threaten on the break but Meyer drags a left-foot shot on the stretch wide of the far post. Hearts in mouth for the home fans in the crowd.
98' - GERMANY CHANCE! Meyer curves a lovely ball towards Brandt who lobs an awkward volley on the stretch just wide of the far post.
108' - BRAZIL CHANCE! Neymar plays a sublime reverse pass into the path of Felipe Anderson who sees his prod at goal superbly blocked by Horn.
Brazil win their first ever Olympic gold in the men's football competition.
For the second time in history, the Olympic final in men's football was decided on penalties.