June 29, 2011

Brazil 1, Australia 0

In yet another low scoring, closely played match, Brazil was able to juggle their way to a 1-0 victory over Australia. These two teams played a close match in the 2007 World Cup as well, with Brazil winning 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Offense was not nearly so prevalent in this match.

Brazil had the first good opportunity of the match as Maurine crossed the ball in from the left side. Rosana was able to get her head on it, but from an awkward position and the ball landed on top of the net.

Australia played very well for the first 45 minutes. Kyah Simon was clipped by Erika in the 18th minute, but the referee ruled she was just outside of the penalty area. On the insuing free kick, Collette McCallum's effort was sent right into the middle. The ball fell to the ground, but in the scramble, Heather Garriock just couldn't quite get her foot on the ball and Brazil was able to clear.

A few minutes later, Simon's shot from 18 yards out appeared to be heading for the upper right part of the goal, but Brazilian keeper Andreia made a nice grab to keep Australia off the board.

On a long ball up the left side, Marta was able to beat a defender and then cross the ball from just shy of the end line. Her low cross found Cristiane 15 yards out, but her shot was not struck solidly. Rosana then gained possession but put the ball over the goal from eight yards away.

Lisa De Vanna was a worry for the Brazilian defense throughout the first half. A turnover by Brazil and De Vanna had a shot from 18 yards, but she mishit it and the ball rolled harmlessly off to the side.

Brazil had two chances late in the half. Marta's low drive from 22 yards went just wide right. Later, Maurine's cross came to Cristiane, who hit one high and wide from just ten yards away. Maybe Brazil was just a little rusty, having played very few matches over the last several months.

The game went into halftime with the score at 0-0, a recurring theme in this year's World Cup. But Cristiane's rather unusual play put the Brazilians up early in the second half.

In the 54th minute, the ball was sent into the middle from the right side with Cristiane getting to the ball about 22 yards out left center. She first juggled the ball over one defender toward the center, then surrounded by two defenders, juggled the ball back into the air and then headed the ball forward to Rosana, whose timing gave her a half step on Australian defenders. Tameka Butt recovered only to have Rosana put a brilliant touch past her. Then Rosana sent the ball into the right corner of the net, with Melissa Barbieri having no chance.

Later, a Marta drive from 22 yards was blocked at six yard box by Kim Carroll in what could have been a danger for the Aussies.

Australia tried to come back in the final 15 minutes. Heather Garriock and Butt both attempted midrange shots, but neither troubled Andreia very much. A few minutes later, Butt was well inside the box near the end line, but her cross went all the way through without a teammate being able to reach it.

The last best chance came in the 87th minute, as a long ball got over the Brazilian defense with De Vanna running on to it. Andreia came out to defend and De Vanna attempted to chip it over Andreia from 15 yards out. Unfortunately for her, she hit it too high and too hard and the ball went harmlessly over the net.

In the closing seconds, the Matildas won a corner, but Samantha Kerr's attempt from inside the eighteen was blocked by the Brazilian defense and the referee's whistle signaled the end of the match.

Perhaps the Matildas deserved a better fate on this day, but Cristiane's magic and Rosana's finish brought the victory home for Brazil.

Group D will next be in action on Sunday and it should be two very interesting contests. Australia will take on the enigmatic, but exciting Equatorial Guinea team. Brazil will battle the winner of today's other match, Norway, for the lead in Group D.