Mexico beat Brazil 2-1 in the men’s soccer Olympic final, winning its sole gold medal of the London games and denying the record five-time World Cup champion its first title in the event.
Oribe Peralta took advantage of a defensive error by Manchester United’s Rafael to score in the first minute at Wembley Stadium. The 28-year-old then headed in a goal in the 75th minute from a free kick. Hulk, 26, scored in the first minute of injury time as Brazil scrambled for a tie.
It was Mexico’s first appearance in an Olympic soccer final, and continues a drought at the games for the world’s most successful soccer nation. Brazil hasn’t won the final in its three attempts, losing to France in Los Angeles in 1984 and to the Soviet Union four years later in Seoul. It came third in Beijing in 2008.
“This has been the highest point of my career. To sing the national anthem with a gold medal around your neck is priceless,” said Mexico coach Luis Fernando Tena after the match. “Winning this gold medal on the sacred pitch of Wembley makes it even more special. This is a fair reward for my 18 warriors.”
Mexico took the lead 28 seconds after the kickoff. The 22- year-old Rafael’s poorly placed pass was intercepted by Javier Aquino, who quickly moved the ball to Peralta, who scored the quickest goal of the Olympic soccer tournament.
“They scored a goal at the beginning,” Brazil captain Thiago Silva told reporters. “When that happens you change everything you planned during the week.”
Brazil had to wait almost 20 minutes for its first chance when Leandro Damiao, the competition’s top scorer with six goals, weaved into the edge of penalty box and passed to his Internacional teammate, Oscar. The 20-year-old’s tame left foot shot was collected by Mexico’s captain and goalkeeper Jose Corona.
With 32 minutes gone, Brazilian coach Mano Menezes put Hulk in to bolster the attack. The Porto striker made a difference as Corona struggled to deal with his 30-yard drive shortly before the half.
Brazil finished the opening period with three shots on target, failing to make their 61 percent possession and three attackers on the field count.
Mexico began the second half almost as badly as Brazil in the first. Hulk won a free kick after he was fouled by Diego Reyes. It earned the Mexican a yellow card, but the Brazilian failed to pressure Corona with the shot.
Brazil continued to fire shots at the goalkeeper, including two from Neymar.
Mexico absorbed almost 20 minutes of attacking pressure from Brazil before its first chance of the second half fell to Marco Fabian. A deflection off Brazilian goalkeeper Gabriel teed up the ball for a bicycle kick from the Mexican forward, which hit the crossbar.
Peralta was denied a second goal on 68 minutes after he was ruled to be offside following his short range shot past Gabriel.
Brazil replaced Tottenham midfield Sandro with AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato as it tried to increase the tempo in Mexico’s half.
Marcelo fouled Hector Herrera outside the penalty box. The free kick into the box was headed in by the unguarded Peralta, giving him four goals in the tournament.
Mexico reached injury time leading 2-0, but a long ball from Brazil’s defense reached Hulk, who scored to throw drama into the last few moments of the final.
“In the end, it didn’t happen as we expected,” Silva said. “Brazil always have a big chance but it’s hard for us because we have never won.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Spillane at Wembley Stadium on at email@example.com.