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Soccer in review: USWNT recovers for bronze, Brazil strikes gold again

Soccer in review: USWNT recovers for bronze, Brazil strikes gold again
Posted at 11:12 PM, Aug 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-08 03:15:29-04

The Tokyo Olympics soccer competition fit a month's worth of drama into a pair of gripping tournaments, spanning barely over two weeks in Japan.

Both the men's and women's tournaments produced marquee final fours and enough extra time madness to last three years and then some. 

Relive the best moments of soccer at the Tokyo Olympics, starting all the way back with Day -2 at the Games.

SWEDEN STIFLES UNITED STATES IN GROUP STAGE OPENER

The U.S. women's national team entered the Olympics on a 44-match undefeated streak, having never lost under new head coach Vlatko Andonovski. Sweden put a swift end to all that. The Scandinavians were bigger, faster and better on the day, handing the Americans a sobering 3-0 loss to open their Olympics. 

SEE MORE: Sweden hands USWNT shocking 3-0 loss in first group match

NETHERLANDS HANGS 10 ON ZAMBIA

Vivianne Miedema is the best goalscorer in the world today, regardless of gender. She hammered home the first FOUR of her tournament-leading 10 goals in Japan in the group stage opener, part of a 10-3 Dutch demolition of Zambia. But don't discount the three goals the African nation — and specifically Barbra Banda did score in the contest. She'd add a second hat trick in the very next game for a six-goal breakout Olympic tournament.

SEE MORE: Netherlands women's soccer trounces Zambia in opener, 10-3

BRAZIL WINS RIO REMATCH AGAINST GERMANY

In the Maracana in 2016, Brazil got the better of its European rival thanks to Neymar's composure from the spot. In Yokohama in 2021, Richarlison's deadly finishing in front of goal did the Germans in. The Group D squads went in opposite directions after the match, with Brazil sprinting to the final and Germany crashing out in the group stage.

SEE MORE: Brazil defeats Germany 4-2 in rematch of Rio final

U.S. WOMEN SURVIVE INSTANT CLASSIC AGAINST NETHERLANDS

The finalists of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup met once again in the Olympics round of eight. After a thrilling 90 minutes could not separate the sides, the semifinal spot was decided on penalty kicks. U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher came up huge in the shootout, saving two Dutch spot kicks to tee up Megan Rapinoe for the clincher.

SEE MORE: Rapinoe penalty sends USWNT to semis, surviving Dutch scare

Canada stuns USWNT in semifinal upset

From first minutes of the opening match against Sweden, it was clear the Tokyo Olympics would not be smooth sailing for the U.S. women's national team. Struggles to score finally caught up with them in the semifinals against their North American neighbors Canada. It took a hard-luck penalty and a subsequent VAR review to give the Canadian's the edge, but once they got it they made it count.

SEE MORE: USWNT falls to Canada in semifinal on late VAR decision

Mexico captures bronze, breaks Japanese hearts

Japan came agonizingly close to a men's soccer medal on home soil, falling to Spain in extra time of a medal-clinching semifinal. Three days later, an exciting Mexican side showed no mercy in the bronze medal match, scoring a 3-1 victory for its second-ever Olympic men's soccer medal. 

SEE MORE: Mexico too much for Japan in men's soccer bronze medal match

U.S. legends refuse to leave empty-handed

After the Americans' elimination from gold medal contention, many wondered if a changing of the guard was in order at the heart of the U.S. attack. Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd silenced those talks for at least one more match, scoring four great goals to deny Australia a bronze medal 

SEE MORE: Rapinoe, Lloyd lead U.S. women to bronze medal win

Canada captures gold on penalties

After downing the United States, an arguably even more daunting foe awaited in the gold medal match in Sweden. But Canada went stride for stride with the Rio runners-up, taking the match 1-1 to penalty kicks. After a shaky shootout start, 20-year-old Julia Grosso stepped up to the spot and kicked Canada to gold.

SEE MORE: Canada captures women's soccer gold on penalty kicks

Brazil gets second taste of glory

The men's final came down to the two favorites, with Spain taking Brazil to extra time in Yokohama. In the 108th minute, Malcom insured penalty kicks would not decide two gold medals in the same Olympics, striking past Unai Simon to give Brazil its second straight Olympic men's soccer gold.

SEE MORE: Brazil defends men's soccer gold in extra time vs. Spain

MEDAL SUMMARY

WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT

Gold: Canada
Silver: Sweden
Bronze: United States

MEN'S TOURNAMENT

Gold: Brazil
Silver: Spain
Bronze: Mexico

MATCH RESULTS | FULL EVENT REPLAYS