Dzsenifer Marozsan played a role in each of her team’s goals as Germany defeated Sweden, 2-1 on Friday at the Maracana Stadium to win the gold medal in the Rio 2016 Olympics women’s soccer tournament. The Olympic gold medal is a first for Germany in women’s soccer after three consecutive bronze medals at the turn of the millennium.
The match was Silvia Neid’s final time in charge of Germany before stepping down, a move which was announced a year ago.
Marozsan opened the scoring three minutes after halftime, perfectly placing a right-footed shot past Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl from the top of the 18-yard box. Marozsan held up her run as Leonie Maier provided the los service behind Swedish defenders running back toward their own goal.
[MORE: Germany sends Neid out on top]
The decisive goal came in the 62nd minute, ironically via an own goal committed by Linda Sembrant, one of the reasons Sweden’s defense has been so hard to beat in the knockout-round of this tournament. Following Lotta Schelin’s foul on Sarah Daebritz just outside the box, Marozsan stepped up and sent a right-footed shot off the near post and Sembrant, facing her own net, mis-hit the clearance into her own goal.
Sweden would push forward and immediately draw a goal back five minutes later through Stina Blackstenius, but the two-goal deficit was a tall order for a Sweden team which only scored three goals in five matches entering into Friday’s final.
The start of the second half stood in stark contrast to the opening minutes of the match. Sweden came out more aggressively than expected in the opening minutes, having spent the previous two games bunkered in against the U.S. and Brazil, both of whom Sweden beat in penalty kicks. Sweden still defended with a four-back and five in the midfield, but did push forward enough to earn six corner kicks in the first half.
[MORE: Like them or not, Sweden must be respected]
But it was Germany which had the better of the chances and shoud have been ahead at halftime. Melanie Leupolz missed an open header from six yards out in the 20th minute, and Anja Mittag missed a sitter from six yards out in the 25th minute after Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl spilled a rebound.
The silver medal for Sweden marks the country’s best-ever finish at the Olympics. It matches Sweden’s best finish at an Olympics or Word Cup following a runner-up finish at the 2003 World Cup, falling to Germany in the final.
Friday’s gold-medal game was the first all-European Olympic gold medal match in women’s soccer – because it was the first time the United States didn’t feature in the final – since the sport was introduced to the Olympics in 1996. It was also the first Olympic women’s soccer final coached by two women.
Neid will now hand over the reins to Steffi Jones. Sundhage’s contract with Sweden is up at the end of the year, and she has stated several times in the previous 18 months that she probably won’t continue coaching Sweden after that. The European Championship is next summer.
Earlier Friday, Canada defeated host Brazil, 2-1 to win the bronze medal for a second straight Olympic Games.
[LAULETTA: Five reasons the USWNT lost in the quarterfinals of the Olympics]
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