10 Memorable Matches
100 years of Olympic football have produced many unforgettable encounters.
USA v. Brazil 2-1 a.e.t. (2004)
A shock is in the air in the women’s final in the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraus. Brazil pin the USA’s backs to the wall with a series of thrilling attacks, but cannot quite make the decisive breakthrough. Their profligacy is punished in extra time as Abby Wambach strikes eight minutes from time to end the gold-medai aspirations of Marta, Cristiane and co.
Cameroon v. Spain 2-2 a.e.t., 5-3 on pens (2000)
Once again an African team reaches the final. Cameroon’s fate seems sealed early on when Xavi scores after two minutes, and Spain lead 2-0 at half-time. However, an own goal by Amayas and a strike by Eto’o on the hour-mark put Cameroon back on level terms. Spain survive extra time despite playing with only nine men but lose on penalties. The hero in front of 100,000 spectators in Stadium Australia is Cameroon’s 16-year-oid goalkeeper Kameni.
Nigeria v. Brazil 4-3 a.e.t. (1996) and Nigeria v. Argentina 3-2 (1996)
Africa’s first Olympic gold is sealed in dramatic fashion. Nigeria are two goals down with 12 minutes remaining of their semi¬final against Brazil, but manage to level the scores at 3-3 and go on to win through a golden goal by Nwankwo Kanu after only four minutes of extra time. They repeat their exploits in the final, overhauling a 2-1 deficit against favourites Argentina.
USA v. Norway 2-1 a.e.t. (1996)
The USA leave it late to overcome world champions Norway in the semi-final of the first women’s Olympic Football Tournament. US legend Michelle Akers equalises from the penalty spot with 15 minutes to go and Shannon MacMillan scores a golden goal to secure the USA’s place in the final, where they defeat the Chinese to win their first gold medal.
Spain v. Poland 3-2 (1992)
A goal by Kiko in injury time clinches the first gold for a host nation since 1920. Poland take the lead shortly before half-time in a thrilling match played before 95,000 spectators in the Nou Camp. They fall behind and draw level again but ultimately fail to take the match into extra time.
Zambia v. Italy 4-0 (1988)
Italy’s Olympic team starring Carnevale, Ferrara and Tassotti do not know quite what has hit them. Four Bwalya goals (3 from Kalusha, 1 from Jonson) constitute a debacle for the Azzurri, who nevertheless go on to qualify. Zambia later lose to FR Germany in the quarter-final. Several Zambian players lose their life in 1993 when their plane crashes off the coast of Gabon.
German DR v. FR Germany 3-2 (1972)
The German DR edge out their neighbours in front of 80,000 spectators in Munich’s Olympic Stadium in one of only two matches between the two German teams, cancelling out goals by Uli Hoeness and Ottmar Hitzfeld and thus qualifying for the semi-final, where they share bronze with the Soviet Union – the one and only time this has happened. The German DR win again two years later at the FIFA World Cup™ thanks to the famous strike by Sparwasser but the West Germans nevertheless go on to become world champions.
Soviet Union v. Yugoslavia 5-5 (1952)
The 5-5 scoreline in this first-round encounter goes down in FIFA’s record books as the highest-scoring draw in a competitive match.
What is more, the game also produces the biggest comeback of all time as the Soviets miraculously pull themselves back level after trailing Yugoslavia 5-1 with an hour played. Their achievement is all in vain, however, as Yugoslavia win the replay two days later before losing the final to the magnificent Hungary team led by Ferenc Puskas.
Italy v. Austria 2-1 (1936)
In between winning two FIFA World Cups™, Italy also win Olympic gold in front of 85,000 spectators in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Opponents Austria only manage to progress this far as the result of a questionable FIFA decision following their 4-2 defeat to Peru, but eventually fall victim to the Italians when Frossi scores the winning goal in the 92nd minute.
Uruguay v. Argentina 1-1 a.e.t. (1928)
Defending champions Uruguay are held at bay for two hours by neighbours Argentina, and the replay also appears to be heading towards a stalemate before Hector Scarone scores the winning goal 15 minutes from the end.