Well worth the wait: Neymar stars as Brazil men’s soccer gets first Olympic gold

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Weverton’s save and Neymar’s decisive penalty kick gave Brazil the last of the unplucked gems, as the storied soccer nation finally added a gold medal to its trophy case.

Neymar’s 27th minute free kick gave Brazil an early lead, but Max Meyer managed to bring it all back for Germany in the second half in a 1-1 game that ended 5-4 in penalty kicks at the Maracana on Saturday.

Brazil looked the better for a goal in extra time, but it didn’t come. It doesn’t matter. One of the world’s most celebrated soccer nations had struck gold.

WATCH: Full match replay

There were fireworks a plenty in the gold medal match, as both sides had historic gold in view.

Serge Gnabry picked up a splendid diagonal ball toward the left corner, and worked two defenders before finding Julian Brandt. His curling shot was a beautiful thing and beat Weverton but clanged off the crossbar.

At the other end, Luan couldn’t make proper contact with a cut back cross from Douglas Costa, bouncing his attempt wide.

That’s when Neymar’s goal put victory on the table for Brazil, after a mazey move down the left that was cut short by a harsh tackle from Matthias Ginter.

Barcelona’s dribbling daredevil took his chance well, curling a vicious free kick that had a bit of grace, too. It hit the bar and went in to give Brazil its 1-0 lead. Was Brazil on the verge of glory?

Soon after, Sven Bender bent a header off the same woodwork for Germany. It felt more goals were inevitable, as Brazil looked for the luxury of an insurance goal and the Germans aimed to get back again.

Schalke’s Meyer was lively all match, and looking for a place to happen when he equalized in the 59th minute. Jeremy Toljan streaked down the right wing to cut back a ball toward the penalty spot that Meyer belted to the right of a diving Weverton.

Germany's Maximilian Meyer celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the final match of the men's Olympic football tournament between Brazil and Germany at Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
(AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Was Brazil playing scared with the lead? Conceding woke the hosts up, and they had the better of both possession and chances in the next few minutes. Gabriel Jesus looked to have a shot deflected out of play for a corner by Toljan, but the referee didn’t see it that way.

It seemed there was something on when Neymar presided over a free kick from further out in the 74th minute. The captain chipped the offering over the wall on a set play, but Germany goalkeeper Timo Horn had the wherewithal to collect the ball.

Brazil camped in the Germany end for the rest of the second half, bar a counter attack or two. Still, the gold medal game was sent into extra time.

Neymar continued to shine, more as a playmaker, in the extra periods. He picked out Felipe Anderson early in the second session, but Horn came out to make the save.

It was time for PKs. The selection was quick, the crew was picked in order:

GER: Ginter scores
BRA: Renato Augusto scores
GER: Gnabry scores
BRA: Marquinhos scores
GER: Brandt scores
BRA: Rafinha scores
GER: Sule scores
BRA: Luan scores
GER: Petersen saved
BRA: Neymar scored

The pendulum swings for Brazil, who was low on momentum after the women were eliminated on the heels of a poor Copa America Centenario and an embarrassing home 7-1 World Cup ouster at the hands of Germany.

Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final