Victorious Brazil wraps up Group D
Erika produced some samba skills to unleash a frustrated Brazil and lead it to a 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea to secure top spot in Group D at the women's World Cup.
After the African outsiders neutralized the heavy favourites with dogged defending for 49 minutes, Erika controlled a loose ball on her chest, then tapped it from her right foot to the left to send a volley flying past goalie Miriam from 13 metres.
Five minutes later, top star Marta sent a low pinpoint cross into the centre to set up Christiane for the second goal. Christiane celebrated with a jubilant body flip and back summersault, and then added the third goal from the penalty spot in injury time after Marta was brought down in the area.
Brazil won Group D with 9 points and will play the second-place team in Group C in Dresden on Sunday. That will be the loser of the United States-Sweden game played late Wednesday.
"It was a really tough game for us. We didn't play the way we wanted," said Brazil coach Kleiton Lima.
Equatorial Guinea was already eliminated from the competition after two games. But for the third game in a row powerful forward Anonman proved she was one of the tournament's best players, constantly a threat with probing runs. Unfortunately, the team produced no support for the colorfully braided, 22-year-old captain.
Those in the big crowd of 35,859 who had come to see another show from Marta — after her two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win over Norway — went away disappointed.
Marta got her touches but her marker Bruna continually tracked her closer than a basketball player defends an opponent under the hoop. But assisting on the second goal and then drawing a foul from Bruna to set up the penalty in injury time was plenty for coach Lima.
"She was brilliant and she delivered," he said.
The 5-time FIFA player of the year is just two goals shy of matching Birgit Prinz's all-time record of 14 World Cup goals, but never had a clear chance on goal.
Despite having already secured advancement after two victories, Brazil largely stuck to its strongest lineup when faced with the biggest outsider of the tournament. But the only Latin American flair the fans at the Commerzbank Arena could enjoy in the first half was the wave going around the stands.
"We had a good talk at halftime and said we had to do better," Lima said.
Brazil came out with a winning spirit in the second half, and the goals soon started flowing.