THE DAY REPLAYED – Canada created a sea of red shirts when celebrating their bronze medal triumph at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016, and there were similar scenes a few hours later when Germany won gold. Yes indeed, Germany donned an all-red strip to win the Olympic title for the first time ever, having finished third on the podium at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
The victors' kits may have been the colour of passion, but neither Brazil nor Sweden were lacking that particular emotion in vibrant, chance-filled encounters played at full tilt at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro and at the Arena Corinthians. Both Germany and Canada went 2-0 up but endured nerve-wracking finales when Brazil and Sweden each pulled a goal back in their respective games, before holding on to win 2-1.
Sweden leave Rio with a historic silver medal – the nation's first ever Olympic medal in women's football – as well as the Fair Play Award. There were tears for Brazil at finishing off the podium places and for the departure of 38-year-old Formiga, who retires from international football as the only woman to have played in all six Olympic tournaments. However, she was bid farewell with an ovation from the home fans, who supported their side as they had in all six matches at the competition.
Gold medal match
Sweden 1-2 Germany
Match for third place
Brazil 1-2 Canada
Goal of the day
Sweden 0-1 Germany, Dzsenifer Marozsan (48')
While some goals are more important than others, there are also goals that are important and spectacular – such as the one scored by Dzsenifer Marozsan to break the deadlock at a crucial moment at the start of the second half. Melanie Leupolz's cross from the right was deflected by a Swedish defender towards the Hungary-born Marozsan on the edge of the penalty area. The No10's stunning right-footed effort curled into Hedvig Lindahl's top-left corner, and although the goalkeeper got her fingertips to it she was powerless to keep it out. It was the only goal Marozsan scored at the tournament, but it was a vital one.
Germany's Silvia Neid was beside herself with joy. It was an extra special occasion for the coach, as it was her final game at the helm before moving on to become head of the women's scouting department at the German Football Association. She celebrated her team's goals ecstatically and posed for countless selfies with fans once the gold medal had been secured. The Olympic title had been the only one missing from her collection since taking the reins of the side in 2005. She won the European Championship twice and also led Germany to FIFA Women's World Cup™ glory at China 2007.
Sweden took home the silver medal despite only having been in front for 30 of the 600 minutes they played at the competition, including extra-time in matches against USA and Brazil. They were unable take the lead in the final, but did manage to do so for 14 minutes against South Africa in a match they won 1-0, and they also led for 16 minutes in their 1-1 draw with USA.
Two players in particular had a leading role in Canada's victory: teenagers Jessie Fleming and Deanne Rose. The former, a talented midfielder, is 18, while Rose, a powerful striker, is just 17. Rose scored the opening goal and provided the assist for the second, even if it was Fleming who played a memorable part in creating it. After harrying her opponent and winning possession, she left two defenders in her wake before finding Rose with pinpoint accuracy. Indeed, the inspiration behind Fleming's decision to become a footballer came while watching her compatriots win bronze at London 2012 when she was just 14 years old. "That flipped a switch inside me," she said in the build-up to this tournament. "I said to myself: 'You know what? You should really commit yourself to this.'"
Goal drought ended
Nobody would have ever suspected it following Brazil's 5-1 thrashing of Sweden in the group stage, but the hosts ended up struggling for goals in their quest for a long sought-after medal. Beatriz's 79th minute effort, a wonderful left-footed strike on the turn, flashed across the box after bring it down on her chest, ended a run of 419 minutes without a goal, even if it turned out to be a mere consolation.
"We won a lot of fans during the Olympics, we filled the stadiums. That's the best prize. Obviously we wanted to finish on the podium, but what we'll take away from this is being applauded everywhere we went. Now I ask the Brazilian public to keep supporting women's football. We need you a lot." Marta, in tears, following the defeat to Canada.