Great Britain best Brazil to finish top
© AFP

Steph Houghton’s second minute goal saw Great Britain beat Brazil and finish top of Group E in a historic encounter at Wembley Stadium. With both teams already qualified for the quarter-finals, this match would simply determine who would avoid world champions Japan in the last eight. Houghton’s third goal in as many games made sure it wouldn’t be Team GB.

Great Britain started positively, with no signs of nerves which have affected many sides playing at this stadium. They were backed by a tremendous crowd of 70,584 - a record for a women's international in England - who did not have to wait long for something to cheer.

With a little over 90 seconds on the clock, a Kelly Smith corner from the right was only partially cleared by the Brazilian defence. Karen Carney did well initially to keep the ball in play and then evade a couple of challenges. She slipped a pass through to Houghton whose first touch took her beyond the keeper before firing clinically through the legs of Erika.

It was the full-back’s third goal in as many games during this tournament and how Team GB celebrated.

It took Brazil a few minutes to settle down and show their quality. After seven minutes, Cristiane wriggled past the attentions of Jill Scott in midfield and tried her luck from 30 yards. The shot fizzed inches wide of the post. Jorge Barcellos’s side then went close twice within 60 seconds. Marta tested Karen Bardsley who was equal to her effort before Cristiane hit a half chance just wide.

The closest Brazil came to a goal in the first half was when Alex Scott headed a right wing cross against her own post under pressure from Cristiane.

But Hope Powell’s side were not sitting back on their lead. Houghton hit a long ball to Jill Scott who nodded it down for Smith. The England No10 then hit a sumptuous volley which flashed across the face of goal.

Brazil made two changes at the break with Maurine and Bruna replaced for Daiane and Aline. The game restarted at a slower pace with Smith and Renata Costa testing the goalkeepers with half-chances in the early stages.

Team GB were not content to rest on their laurels and set about searching for a second. They combined well down the right and Eniola Aluko had a great opportunity to double the hosts advantage, but flashed her shot wide with just the keeper to beat.

Seconds later, Aluko was involved again, bundled down in the box by Francielle when bearing down on goal and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Smith, but Andreia guessed correctly to turn the ball around the post.

Brazil stepped up the pace in search of an equaliser and Bardsley had to be alert to stop Marta’s shot with her legs, but that was to be the South Americans last real foray forward – and it was Team GB who went the closest as the game in the final moments when Little’s curling shot from 25 yards brought about a smart save from Andreia.

The Wembley crowd went home happy, as did Team GB who now face Canada in Coventry on Friday evening, while Brazil must face FIFA Women's World Cup-winners Japan in Cardiff a few hours earlier.