Peralta Leads Mexico to Its First Soccer Gold at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

With his performance in the men’s soccer final at the 2012 Olympic Games, Oribe Peralta will undoubtedly receive a hero’s welcome when he returns to Mexico.

Following his impressive play in the semifinal match against Japan, the 28-year-old Mexican footballer had what could be called the game of his life. Peralta scored a mere 29 seconds into the final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday and added another goal in the second half in Mexico’s upset win over Brazil 2-1 at the London Games.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

With the win, Mexico claims its first-ever Olympic gold medal in men’s soccer since the country started competing in the sport at the Olympics in 1928. Mexico’s previous best performance was at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, when the team came in fourth place after losing the bronze medal game to Japan.

Peralta gave Mexico the early lead after Brazil’s Rafael tried to make a backward pass. Mexico midfielder Javier Aquino intercepted the ball, sending it forward to Peralta just outside the area. With no defenders near him, he calmly sent his shot into the left corner.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

Peralta’s score was the fastest Olympic goal since the 1976 Olympics Games in Montreal, when football’s governing body began keeping records of the competition, according to FIFA.

Peralta’s second goal came off a firm header from near the penalty spot after a free kick cross by Marco Fabian.

Mexico's Oribe Peralta

“I don’t know if this was the best match of my career, but what I do know is that this is the most important because I am here today with a gold medal,” Peralta said. “I dreamed about this moment. It is one of those things you don’t get to live every day.”

The shocked Brazilian team appeared to be shaken by the early goal and struggled to create scoring opportunities throughout the game. Hulk scored the team’s only goal with a low shot from inside the area in the first minute of injury time.

Mexico's Olympic Soccer Team

Brazil had been trying to win its first Olympic gold—the only significant trophy the five-time World Cup champions haven’t won in soccer.

It was the team’s first Olympic final in men’s football since the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, when the team had to settle for silver. Brazil also lost the final four years earlier at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Peralta Propels Mexico to the Men’s Soccer Final at the London Games

London Olympics 2012

Oribe Peralta has proved he can bend it like Beckham at the 2012 Olympic Games

The 28-year-old Mexican footballer scored with a swerving long-range strike, then set up another goal with a spectacular back-heel on Tuesday to propel Mexico to a 3-1 victory over Japan, securing his country it’s first-ever spot in the Olympic men’s soccer final at the London Games.

Oribe Peralta

“We are guaranteed a silver, but we want a gold,” said Mexico’s coach Fernando Luis Tena . “Mexico is a football nation. They must be partying tonight.”

Mexico’s previous best showing at the Olympics was at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, when the team lost to Japan 2-0 in the bronze-medal match.

Japan forward Yuki Otsu opened the scoring at the 12-minute mark, sending a swerving shot into the roof of the net from outside the penalty area after several quick passes opened up a sliver of space.

Mexico Soccer

Marco Fabian headed in a corner for Mexico before halftime to equal the score.

Peralta then scored at the 65-minute mark after winning the ball off of Japanese defender Takahiro Ohgihara, who lingered with it too long after goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda had rolled it to him. Peralta ran with the ball briefly, then shot high and to the left of Gonda to give Mexico the lead.

“Beautiful,” was the way Peralta described his shot from outside the penalty area in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley.

Oribe Peralta

“I have never scored a goal that went so close to the top corner,” he said. “That goal represented everything we tried to do today because I fought for the ball, I got it back and I shot with all my strength.”

Deep into extra time, Javier Cortes cut into the box from the right wing, took the back-heel from Peralta, beat a defender, then sent the ball through the legs of Gonda to cap the victory.

“We had a good start, but then stopped moving,” said Japan’s coach Takashi Sekizuka. “Everyone is very disappointed. But we need to get over our emotion and prepare for the next game.”

Oribe Peralta

On Saturday, Mexico will play against Brazil, which beat South Korea 3-0 in the other semifinal.

Japan and South Korea will play for the bronze medal on Friday.