In a tense and exciting match in St Petersburg , Brazil beat Group A rivals Australia 2-0 thanks to a penalty from Francielle just before the break and an excellently worked second from Fabiana with 20 minutes to go.
Auriverde coach Jorge Barcelos made one change to his starting line-up from the opening match, with Stephane, who had very much impressed in the draw with host nation Russia , making way for Maurine to line up behind the strike duo of Adriane and Fabiana.
Fans at the Petrovsky stadium were treated to bright sunshine and 23-degree heat, but while the weather may have been obliging, the game itself took a while to come to life. Play got bogged down in midfield early on and neither goalkeeper was called up during the opening exchanges. "It was hot here today, and that caused the players some problems," explained Barcelos after the match. "To begin with, the Australians were quicker to the ball and more fluid than we were."
A quarter of an hour had elapsed before the Young Matildas created the first real chance of the game. Leena Khamis latched onto a cross from Collette McCallum, but her header from just outside the six-yard box whistled past the post. Kylie Ledbrook then tested Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara with a rasping drive from the edge of the area, before Sasha McDonnell missed a great opportunity on 23 minutes. After running onto a slide-rule pass behind the defence, the striker steadied herself just inside the box but fired her shot straight at a highly relieved Barbara.
The Brazilians were well off the pace, and the first action of note by a South American player was when Aliane brought down McDonnell in the 38th minute, in the process picking up her second yellow card of this tournament and an automatic one-match ban for the final group game against New Zealand.
Australia pay for their profligacy
However, the Antipodeans would come to regret their missed chances and, as the half drew to a close, Maurine put Fabiana through in the penalty area. The Brazilian striker tussled with Kim Carroll, who eventually pulled her back, and USA referee Jennifer Bennett had no hesitation awarding a penalty, from which Francielle tucked the penalty away and gave Brazil the lead (1-0, 42').
"When you create that many chances against a team like Brazil, you've really got to take them," commented Australian coach Alistair Edwards. "It was a good game and both teams played well, but at the end of the day, Brazil had Fabiana, and she's the one who turned the game."
After the break, Elis came on for Adriana, and the Brazilians began to attack with a great deal more guile. In the 53rd minute, Renata Costa saw her thumping drive from 35 yards cannon off the bar with keeper Lydia Williams stranded. From a corner soon after, Olivia Kennedy sent a header goalwards, but this time Williams was the equal to it, tipping it away.
Edwards had brought on Jenna Tristram for Ledbrook and Amy Chapman for Khamis, and switched formations to 4-3-3 in the search for an equaliser, but this only served to hand the initiative in midfield to the Brazilians. An inch-perfect through ball found Fabiana alone in the box, and the no. 9 made no mistake, coolly slotting home past the on-rushing Williams (2-0, 69').
This second goal put the game beyond the reach of the Australians, leaving Brazil to secure the three points and also top spot in Group A. "It certainly was hard work out there today - those Australian girls are tough," said a tired but satisfied Fabiana after the final whistle. "I am obviously pleased that I got the decisive goal, but now we've just got to move on and focus on the next match."
Player of the match: FABIANA
"Fabiana was the liveliest of the Brazilian forwards and was permanently putting the Australian defence under pressure. Her hard work paid dividends with 20 minutes to go, when she rounded off an excellent attack with a cool finish to make it 2-0," Fran Hilton-Smith (RSA), FIFA Technical Study Group .