LONDON: Mexico shocked Brazil to win their first gold in the Olympic men’s football tournament as Oribe Peralta’s double clinched a shock 2-1 victory over the five-time world champions yesterday.
Peralta struck after just 30 seconds and the Mexican striker sealed one of the all-time great Olympic upsets when he scored again late in the second half. Hulk got one back in stoppage-time before Chelsea’s Oscar spurned a golden opportunity heading over the bar from point-blank range in the final seconds of the match.
Mexico, playing in their first Olympic final, were deserved winners as Brazil once again failed to end their long wait for a first football gold.
South Korea win first bronze
Meanwhile, South Korea’s men beat fierce Asian rivals Japan 2-0 in the play-off for bronze to claim the country’s first Olympic football medal.
Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young and captain Koo Ja-Cheol scored either side of half-time, as the Taeguk Warriors claimed a measure of revenge for the senior side’s penalty shoot-out loss to Japan at last year’s Asian Cup. “This is one of the most special moments for me and my team,” said Koo. “I’m very proud to be one of the first footballers to become medallists in Korean history.”
Japanese striker Kensuke Nagai expressed his disappointment at the result.
“I’m really upset,” said Nagai. “We were able to play our football but the result just didn’t follow. But it’s been a really good experience and I hope that we can achieve a better result next time.”
South Korea’s players celebrated with extra relish as the match earned them exemption from military service. The South Korean authorities had promised to spare the squad a stint in the armed forces – which is usually obligatory – if they secured the bronze medal, and they successfully completed their mission in Cardiff. Coach Hong Myung-Bo revealed that the South Korean celebrations had got slightly out of hand.
“It was a big disaster in the changing room,” said Myung-Bo. “The players went crazy and threw everything about. I couldn’t go inside and had to wait outside until the press conference began. It was just crazy.”
“This is one of the most special moments of my life. My team has never experienced something like this. I’m very proud to be one of the first footballers to become medallists in Korean history.”
“I’m really upset about the outcome. We were able to play our football, but the result just didn’t follow. It’s been a really good experience and I hope that we can achieve a better result next time.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.