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Rio Olympics: Captain Neymar the hero as Brazil bite back to win gold

By Matt Gatward

If the scriptwriter had offered this up before kick-off in Saturday night's Brazil v Germany Olympic final here at the Maracana they'd have been sacked for being too fanciful. It was fairytale, make-believe, hard to fathom stuff as Neymar, the darling of the Selecao, scored the 10th and decisive penalty in a shootout to win it 5-4 and to seal gold for his country.

The match ended 1-1 in normal time as Neymar, (who else?), scored a brilliant free-kick that looked like it would lead Brazil to glory. But the Germany captain Max Meyer equalised on 58 minutes. There were chances - nothing golden - but the two couldn't be separated... until the incredible drama of the penalties.

Germany went first in the shoot-out, Matthias Ginter scoring amid deafening jeers. Renato Augusto lifted his into the top corner. Serge Gnabry, of Arsenal, put his through Weverton. Marquinhos scored. Julian Brandt fired home. Rafael Alacantra sent the goalkeeper Timo Horn the wrong way: 3-3. Niklas Suele drilled into the corner. Luan buried the reply: 4-4.

Then Weverton, wide-eyed, saved Nils Petersen's kick. Cue Neymar who rolled the ball home, sending Horn the wrong way. Cue bedlam. Cue gold. Cue tears from Neymar who fell to the turf on his knees - the weight of an expectant nation lifted.

Before kick-off as "next stop Maracana" was announced on the Metro it was met by a huge cheer, then one man of many in Brazil shirts shouted: "If Germany win this, I'm leaving the country."

He doesn't need to sell up now. He can stay and celebrate Brazil's first Olympic football gold medal - and what a way to do it. Germany are meant to win penalty shoot-outs.

The win, in some part, exorcises the demons of Germany's humiliating 7-1 World Cup victory that shattered the hosts up at Belo Horizonte two years ago. That, of course, denied them the chance to win the trophy on home soil, something Uruguay had also done back in 1950 in that infamous final here at the Maracana.

This golden victory - the Selecao's first major tournament success on their own turf - will ease the pain.

Neymar, who was also brilliant in the 6-0 semi-final victory over Honduras, was the first name to be chanted by the 80,000 raucous Brazil fans in this famous old footballing theatre - and he was the last.

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