Brazil secure spot in knockout round with win over Spain

Brazil sealed their place in the knockout round with a 1-0 win over Spain today at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Andressa Alves scored the winner late in the first half, and Brazil never looked back against a naïve Spanish side that had a lot of endeavor but little ability to finish. Brazil can also win Group E tonight should South Korea draw with Costa Rica in tonight’s late game.

Brazil blew past South Korea in their first game, with Formiga and Marta setting records in the game. Spain, on the other hand, were wasteful in their opener against Costa Rica, and were forced to settle for a share of the points with a 1-1 draw. And tonight, the pattern stayed pretty much the same. Brazil, while not exactly looking like worldbeaters, were professional and disciplined. Spain, while having some of the better chances, looked callow.

You could see that in the opening minutes when Spain’s Natalia Pablos had a gift of a chance, essentially one-on-one against Luciana, and slipped her shot well wide of the far post. Rafaelle Souza actually came the closest to scoring for Spain when she nearly flipped the ball into her own net, forcing Luciana to make a decent stop.

But with Brazil willing to allow Spain to keep the ball, little happened until late in the half. Alone against Ainhoa Tirapu, Alves slotted the ball through the keeper’s legs with a low roller. Celia Jimenez roared back and slid along the hard turd to try and sweep it away, but Alves had followed up and simply tapped into the gaping net.

"Today we won due to the perseverance of Andressa Alves, who showed great belief when she scored the goal that won us the match, and more importantly, qualified us for the next round," Brazil coach Vadao said.

The second half saw more of the same. Alves went just wide in the 55th minute while Andressa forced Tirapu into a smart diving stop off a driven ball in the 66th. Formiga nearly sewed the game up in the 75th when the ball caromed around the box but could not find the near post. Only Pablos made an impact for Spain, and when she scuffed her shot wide in the 70th, she appeared to jam her cleat on the turf and had to be immediately removed.

Spain had a golden opportunity late when Sonia Bermudez slipped Veronica Boquette free and clear in alone on Luciana, but the inexperience proved crushing: she took two touches too many and was immediately stripped of the ball by Tamires. Her reaction said it all: she buried her head in her hands and looked pleadingly up to the heavens. Spain also threw the kitchen sink at Brazil in stoppage, but even when an errant ball came back off the post, you never felt they could actually score.

"Once again, our moves lacked an end product," Spain manager Ignacio Quereda said. "I have to hand it to my players, because they gave their all and left a good impression. The only thing that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth is the result."

Brazil will now meet Costa Rica on the final day of group stage play next Wednesday in Moncton while Korea face Spain in Ottawa.

Quotes via FIFA.com