Against a transitional Brazil team, England looked set to put an end to their recent run of bad form yet after a competent first half, it was the visitors who came away with the friendly win.
In front of a 29,000 strong crowd the Lionesses hit the ground running and began to cause all sorts of problems in midfield. With Jordan Nobbs returning from injury, Beth Mead in fine form and Lucy Bronze incisive up the right wing, the Brazilian defence had their hands more than full. Yet for all England created, including a goal chalked off for a narrow offside, they had nothing to show for their efforts at the break, the hard work of Érikaand Tamires enough to stem the better of the host’s attacks.
For Brazil’s part, they had looked disjointed, with new coach Pia Sundhage opting to start both Marta and Bia when they were clearly a long way from 100%. The free kicks for the visitors promised so much, yet the delivery was consistently lacking.
Having made a raft of changes at the break, it was Brazil who took the lead early in the second half, Tamires’ neat footwork inside the box enough to leave Nikita Parris tied in knots before she put the ball on a dime. Once again, it was England’s inability to defend a cross that cost them as new centreback pairing Steph Houghton and Leah Williamson failed to communicate an pick up the North Carolina Courage woman, her free header with enough on it to squeeze under Mary Earps.
England looked to respond but began to fracture across the pitch, the away defence still doing enough with Bárbara around to clean up any messes. The game all but put to bed when the ball was served low into the box and, despite the clatter of bodies, Debinha got her boot to it first to send it into the back of the net.
However, the Lionesses weren’t done and late substitute, Beth England pulled one back for the hosts within six minutes of entering the action, her plumb header from Houghton’s free kick far too good for Bárbara. The hosts continued to attack and even thought they’d snatched a late equaliser only to be denied by the meaty paw of the Brazilian number one. The Lionesses’ winless run stretching to five games.
England: Earps, Greenwood, Williamson, Houghton (c), Bronze, Walsh, Scott, Mead, Nobbs (Daly ’58), Parris (Staniforth ’74), Taylor (England ’74).
Brazil: Bárbara, Tamires, Érika, Kathellen, Giovanna (Mônica ’46), Marta (Maria Alves ’46) (c), Luana (Victoria ’87), Formiga (Thaisa ’71), Debhinha, Chu (Ludmilla ’46), Bia (Aline ’71)
Goals: Debinha ’49, ’67, England ‘80
Cautions: Marta ’34, Daly ’65, Aline M ’80.
Referee: Reim Hussain
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