Cristiane stars as Brazil take top
© Foto-net

A first-half treble from Cristiane helped Brazil beat Nigeria 3-1 to march into the quarter-finals as Group F winners. The result ended Nigeria's participation in the competition.

Requiring victory to have any chance of progressing from the section, the Africans took the game to their opponents from the outset. Ifeanyi Chiejine, in particular, troubled the Brazilians, first driving the ball into the side-netting before curling a free-kick narrowly over Barbara's crossbar.

The Seleção goalkeeper was undone on 19 minutes, though, when Perpetua Nkwocha sent her the wrong way from the penalty spot after Cynthia Uwak was fouled. Barbara then had to dive to her right to deny Nigeria a second goal ten minutes later.

Having conceded the spot-kick from which Brazil fell behind, Rosana was determined to make amends. And that she did on 34 minutes, masterfully flicking the ball on to the head of Cristiane, who nodded home the equaliser from close range.

Jorge Barcellos' side had, by now, found their rhythm, and within minutes Cristiane's stunning overhead kick had edged them in front. The elusive No11 completed her hat-trick on the stroke of half-time, collecting a Maycon pass and finishing coolly.

Nigeria's chances of seizing maximum points were remote going into the second half, but that did not prevent them from a relentless onslaught. Barbara, however, was equal to all of their efforts on goal.

Cristiane almost scored her fourth midway through the last 45 minutes, but the outstretched arm of Precious Dede denied her curling effort from distance. Thereafter, Brazil seemed content to stroke the ball around in front of a vibrant crowd, the fatigued Nigerians unable to create any more clear opportunities.

Joseph Ladipo and his charges will return home with their heads held high following a courageous performance. Ultimately, though, they came up short against a Brazilian side inspired by one of the true greats of the women's game. The match belonged to Cristiane.