Gold For Germany As Canada Retain Bronze
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Story by Jeremy Ruane
Germany afforded long-serving coach Silvia Neid the perfect farewell present at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 19, overcoming a tenacious Sweden side 2-1 to win the gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Women’s Football Tournament.
In the first-ever all-European gold medal encounter, one in which both contenders were first-time finalists, it was the Swedes who first threatened, Olivia Scough spurning the chance to break the deadlock when directing Lotta Schelin’s cross over the bar.
The Germans also had opportunities to open the scoring before half-time, most notably through Melanie Leupolz and Anja Mittag, but three minutes after the break they did find the target, and how!
Dzsenifer Marozsan unleashed a stunning curling effort to break the stubborn resistance of Pia Sundhage’s charges, and just after the hour mark uncorked a free-kick which struck the post before ricocheting into the goalmouth, where Linda Sembrandt, in her desperation to clear the danger, compounded it by firing the ball into her own net.
Within five minutes, the Swedes were back in the contest, Stina Blackstenius setting up a grandstand finale after turning home a cross from Scough, who spurned two great chances to level matters in the dying minutes as the Scandinavians piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser amid the cheers of 52,432 fans.
None was forthcoming, however, ensuring Neid concluded her coaching career with a gold medal to go with her FIFA Women’s World Cup winner’s medals and the numerous UEFA Women’s Championship titles to which she has guided the new Olympic Women’s Football champions during the course of her eleven-year reign.
Earlier in the day, at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, Canada held off host nation Brazil 2-1 to win back-to-back bronze medals, repeating the success they first achieved at London 2012.
Canadian captain Christine Sinclair cracked a free-kick against the crossbar early door, before Deanne Rose opened the scoring for John Herdman’s charges, turning the ball home after Ashley Lawrence’s driving box-to-box run in the 25th minute.
Seven minutes after half-time, the scorer turned provider, Rose linking with Jessie Fleming to set up Sinclair, who marked her 250th appearance for her country with a goal which effectively clinched a second successive bronze medal for the Canadians.
Rose hit the post soon after, as Brazil struggled to make any head-way, but, urged on by the 39,718-strong crowd, they got back into the match, Beatriz netting eleven minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish.
Canada held firm, however, and when the final whistle sounded, the host nation were denied a medal upon which they had set their sights, although “La Canarinha” have certainly made their mark upon the football fans of their country with their exploits in Rio 2016.
Brazil 1 (Beatriz (79)), Canada 2 (D. Rose (25), C. Sinclair (52)) HT 0-1
Germany 2 (D. Marozsan (48), “oggie” (62)), Sweden 1 (S. Blackstenius (67)) HT 0-0