Australia gives Brazil a scare
Underdog Australia gave its all, but in the end, that wasn't enough to hold off the mighty Brazilians. Rosana's goal in the 54th minute gave Brazil a 1-0 win in Moenchengladbach, Germany, in front of 27,258 spectators..
"It was a tough match, a very difficult match. We were expecting that," Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said after the match. "The Australia squad is a very young team, a very fast team, and a team that is in very good shape."
Australia, one of the youngest teams in this year's tournament, came out strong in the first half, appearing to frustrate the Brazilian striker tandem of five-time FIFA Player of the Year Marta, and the always-dangerous Cristiane. The "Matildas" also were not content to sit back and play defense, but created many of their own scoring opportunities, often outplaying the Brazilians. If not for a mis-hit from forward Lisa DeVanna in the game's final minute, Australia could have evened the score.
"Both teams were very competitive, and were quite evenly matched for a lot of the game," Australia coach Tom Sermanni said. "We want to be a team that is able to go in and compete with the best teams in the world. … I was very pleased with how we played today."
As Australia lined up for a corner kick deep into stoppage time, fans across the Borussia-Park were on their feet cheering -- Brazil's fans for defense, and everyone else for the game-tying score. It ended as a mad scramble in front of the goal, but after a few attempts, Brazil cleared the ball out of danger, and referee Jenny Palmqvist blew the game's final whistle.
"I think we played very exciting football,'' Australian goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri said. "We didn't just sit back and watch Brazil play. We wanted to go out there and really take it to them, and I'm very proud of the determination to show the world what Australian football is about."
A game that many thought could see a lot of goals ended with just one scored, in keeping with the theme of low-scoring matches so far in the tournament. Out of all the opening games, only the United States' win over North Korea was decided by more than one goal. Lima thinks it's a sign of parity in the women's game.
"I came to Germany very well aware that we were going to play the most competitive Cup ever," Lima said. "Female football has come a long way since 2007. Four years has gone by, and all the squads that are here [have] prepared much better than they had in the past."
Australia's solid effort came just hours after newcomer Equatorial Guinea did the same against long-time soccer power Norway, a sign that the game is developing around the globe. Even though both Australia and Equatorial Guinea lost, 1-0, the teams impressed by hanging in tough against the favorites.
"We know this World Cup will be far more balanced," Rosana said.
Brazil is the world's most popular football team, and when Brazil's fans turn out, they are loud and make sure they are noticed. This was true on Wednesday night in Germany, although it wasn't just Brazilian fans who were vocal: the German fans also cheered for a good match.
"It makes us really go for it. It's very nice to have Brazilians supporting us," Rosana said. "But I know that the German fans came to see good football. It's very nice to see people who don't support Brazil or any other team, but are supporting anyway. It's very rewarding."