Mexicans celebrate Olympic soccer gold medal

Jubilant Mexicans celebrated their 2-1 Olympic gold medal soccer

win over powerhouse Brazil Saturday, waving flags and chanting in

plazas and streets across the country.

Crowds began gathering not long after the Mexican team scored

its first goal in the first minute of play, with shouts of

”Goal!” ringing out from bars and homes. Fans erupted in massive

celebration as the game ended, marking Mexico’s first ever Olympic

soccer gold medal.

Cheering Mexicans turned the downtowns of Mexico City,

Guadalajara and other cities into street parties. Hundreds of fans

waving the country’s red, white and green flag took a victory lap

around the capital’s landmark Angel of Independence statue, with

traffic shut down on the city’s main boulevard.

”Mexico didn’t let up in the match,” said law student Arturo

Castellanos, who watched in Mexico City’s chic Condesa

neighborhood. ”Even though I was embarrassing myself, I was

screaming all kinds of rude things.”

Ignacio Villegas, 18, took the risk of wearing Brazil’s yellow

jersey while walking through the neighborhood. He said he admired

Brazil’s style of soccer and his grandfather was Brazilian. But he

couldn’t help celebrating his country’s victory.

”Brazil didn’t play as a team although they have nothing but

stars,” he said. ”And Mexico played excellently.”

Mexican President Felipe Calderon called the team’s coach, Luis

Fernando Tena, by telephone to congratulate him on the win.

”I think this is the best period of football that we have had

in a long time: two Under-17 championships, the Pan American

championship and now the Olympic championship,” he told Fernando

according to a transcript of the call released by the

presidency.

The mood was notably more somber in Brazil, a country known for

its elegant form of soccer but still awaiting its first-ever

Olympic gold medal in the sport. Brazil has won more World Cup

titles than any other country.

Sadness and frustration were clearly etched on the faces of the

nearly 100 beer-drinking fans that packed the Prainha Paulista bar

in the country’s biggest city, Sao Paulo.

”Brazil played horribly,” chemical engineering student Leoncio

Martinez said, turning away from the TV screen. ”The team deserved

to lose, and the Mexicans more than deserved to win.”

In Rio de Janeiro, fans in surfer shorts and bikinis gathered on

the seaside city’s white-sand beaches to watch the game.

People dressed like Brazilian soccer star Neymar posed with

other fans to take pictures before the match, while the Beija-Flor

samba group’s drummers pounded out heavy Carnival rhythms, stoking

the festive atmosphere.

The party didn’t last long.

Mexico’s first goal immediately silenced the crowd and sent the

few Mexican fans on the beach into delirium.

Brazilian fan Rosemary de Oliveira put the best face she could

on the loss.

”I wanted it to be gold, but it doesn’t matter, the most

important is to participate,” she said after the match. ”We won

the silver! Go Brazil!”

Associated Press writers Stan Lehman in Sao Paulo and Renata

Brito in Rio de Janeiro contributed to this report.