Russia and Brazil both put in respectable performances and created plenty of chances, but neither could find a route to goal in arguably the most eagerly-anticipated of the opening round of Russia 2006 matches.
It was, however, a result that left both coaches reasonably contented. "Brazil are a very strong team and they played exactly how we expected them to," concluded Russia's  Valentin Grishin . "Our girls kept up a high tempo, but didn't manage to score." His Brazilian counterpart, Jorge Barcelos , was equally upbeat: "We came here to win the trophy, but I am still very pleased with today's result."

The kick-off was preceded by the opening ceremony, complete with a welcoming address from FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, and once the match was underway the capacity crowd at St Petersburg's Petrovsky Stadium only had to wait until the sixth minute for the game's first real chance. It fell to the Brazilians, when a defensive lapse from Maria Filisova allowed Fabiana to go one-on-one with Russian keeper, Elvira Todua. However, Todua - who started her career as an outfield player - rushed out, almost sweeper-style, to extinguish the danger.

As one might expect from a team representing Brazil, the young Auriverdes occasionally outshone their opponents in terms of technique and their ability to work the ball at speed.

The host nation, meanwhile, seemed unable to establish a rhythm and struggled to get the ball to their star forward, Elena Danilova, who finished top scorer at the last two UEFA European Women's U-19 Championships. However all that changed when Grishin instructed the team to play the ball shorter, with Elena Morozova advancing down the right flank.

In the 38th minute it was Danilova who burst into the penalty area and dispatched a shot towards the centre of the goal. The stadium held its breath as the ball took a deflection off Brazil defender Aliane and appeared to be heading for the net. However, the Auriverdes' goalkeeper Barbara somehow managed to clear the danger.

"I never expected Russia to be so strong in attack," admitted Barcelos at the post-match press conference. "They always seemed to be two steps ahead of us. We'll be taking note for the future." 

Chances at either end
Shortly after half-time, Grishin was forced to make a second substitution. In the first half Elena Shchegaleva had come on for the injured Olga Petrova and when Nadezda Kharchenko also took a knock, she was replaced by Kristina Anokhina.

Territorial advantage swung first one way and then the other, though it was Brazil who created the most clear chances. At the start of the second half, Adriana saw her shot hit the post after Todua failed to hold onto a cross and, soon after, Daiane's free-kick met the same fate, though this time the Russian keeper tipped the ball onto the woodwork.

No less than three times, the Russians succeeded in finding Danilova in the box with long-range passes, but each time the Spartak forward was too sluggish in her response, and the chances went begging.

"Most of the time I was picking up the ball deep and having to carry it forward myself, which meant I was struggling for power by the time I was in a position to shoot," explained Danilova. "If I'd had another second, I'd have put the ball in the net."

According to her coach, Danilova "was not at her best." But Grishin also felt that she had lacked support: "She got hardly any help from midfield, and she was up against three or four opponents. It was very tough for her."

The main Brazilian threat, meanwhile, came from set pieces. In the 90th minute, Todua had to be at her best to beat away a shot from Francielle. Then, with the game already into stoppage time, both Danielle and Elis managed shots on goal, but to the relief of the capacity crowd, who urged on the host nation until the final whistle, neither effort found the target.

"I'm happy with the result and the performance, and I'm especially pleased with the commitment that our girls showed," concluded Grishin, who was also at pains to praise the fans. "During my time in charge," he added, "we've never had that kind of support before."

Player of the match: ELENA DANILOVA (Russia)
"She worked very hard for her team. She is a technically gifted player who creates a lot of chances. She is particularly dangerous in one-on-one situations, though she was a little unlucky today in front of goal," Chan Shuk-Li (HKG),  FIFA Technical Study Group .