Brazil Men's Soccer Redeem Loss To Germany For Olympic Gold In Penalty Kick Shootout
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Last night was a huge night for Brazil. The host country won its first ever Olympic gold medal in soccer. The Brazilian men's team beat Germany in a penalty kick shootout. NPR's Melissa Block was there in the crowd.
MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: A golden moon hung over legendary Maracana Stadium. Tens of thousands of Brazilians in bright gold jerseys filled the stands, and dreams of gold danced in the minds of players and fans alike.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in Portuguese).
BLOCK: The crowd lustily sang Brazil's national anthem, praising their country's strength and colossal greatness. But no soccer fan in that crowd could ignore this fact - Brazil needed redemption on a massive scale. Two years ago, Brazil, hosting the World Cup, lost to this same country, Germany, in the semi-final at this very same stadium, Maracana. And they didn't just lose. They were scorched 7 to 1. It remains a national humiliation.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).
BLOCK: So last night in the 27th minute, when Brazil's star player, Neymar, curved a free kick high into the net past the outstretched hands of the German goalie, the crowd was euphoric. They chanted triumphantly, Maracana is ours.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Portuguese).
BLOCK: Not so fast. Germany tied the game in the second half and it remained tied through the rest of regulation plus 30 minutes of extra time, so it came down to a nail-biter, a penalty kick shootout. Germany and Brazil both landed their first four shots. Then Brazil's goalie blocked the fifth shot from Germany, and it was up to Neymar to step up and try to win the game.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Cheering).
BLOCK: He buried it. Delirium - the crowd danced and embraced. The Brazilian team jumped onto a joyful pile while the Germans sat on the field stunned. After the celebration, I found Luciana Gomes leaving the stadium with her 6-year-old daughter and a huge smile.
LUCIANA GOMES: Yes, very proud. Brazil is champion.
BLOCK: Fan Adriano Sancho pronounced himself not just happy, but...
ADRIANO SANCHO: (Speaking Portuguese).
BLOCK: "...Very, very, very, very happy," he exulted. "My soul has been washed clean." So, I ask, does that mean the 7 to 1 loss to Germany is forgotten?
SANCHO: No (speaking Portuguese). Never. No.
BLOCK: Tough crowd. As for fan Douglas Florencio...
DOUGLAS FLORENCIO: We believe. We believe.
BLOCK: He sees this Olympic gold as a rebirth for Brazil. But that 7 to 1 defeat still burns.
FLORENCIO: We still have that 7-1 in our minds. It's something that is in our soul, something that we will never forgive it. But anyway, we have to keep going, and that's it. It's a new start.
BLOCK: A new start and a first Olympic gold for Brazilian soccer. Not a bad way to wrap up your Olympics. Melissa Block, NPR News, Rio de Janeiro.
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