WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: The Reggae Girlz
SYDNEY SCHNEIDER saved a penalty but despite her exploits between the sticks Brazil ran riot to register a comprehensive 3-0 Women’s FIFA World Cup win over Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz in Grenoble on Sunday.
The 19-year-old was arguably the best player for the Girlz in front of 17,000 inside the enthusiastic Stade des Alpes in France.
The American-born shot-stopper, who plies her trade in the United States with UNC Wilmington Seahawks, was outwitted by striker Cristiane – who became the oldest player to bag a World Cup hat-trick – but did well to deny her team-mates.
The Girlz must have been relieved that the South American champions had left legendary striker Marta, the all-time leading scorer in Women’s World Cups, on the bench because of injury.
It was Khadija Shaw, the promising Jamaican forward who last week signed professional terms with French giants FC Girondins de Bordeaux, who was expected to be grabbing the goals in their opening Group C contest.
However, 34-year-old Cristiane stole the limelight from the Spanish Town-born rising star.
She broke the deadlock after 15 minutes converting Andressa Alves’ cross with an unstoppable thumping header to grab her 90th international goal.
The Girlz showed immediate disappointment, with skipper Konya Plummer booked for a frustrated late challenge on Beatriz within 60 seconds of conceding.
In contrast the Brazilians were brimming with confidence, but it was Schneider who prevented them from adding to their tally in a one-sided opening half. Her brilliant diving save on 25 minutes stopped Debinha’s low effort and on the half-hour mark Andressa should have scored.
Jamaica had their chance to snatch an equaliser, but Barbara’s one-handed tip away was enough to deny Shaw’s angled drive that initially appeared destined for the top corner.
And Jamaica’s Allyson Swaby was harshly adjudged to have handled inside the box on 36 minutes. Andressa stepped up but the keeper’s dive to her right was timed to perfection to stop the tame spot-kick.
At the interval the scoreline did not bode well for the Girlz because Brazil had won their past seven World Cup opening games, had scored first and had not conceded.
The Brazilians were in cruise control after the turnaround, goalscorer Cristiane doubling their advantage on 50 minutes. Debinha picked out the ever dangerous Andressa, who pulled the ball back to the far post for Cristiane to polish off from a tricky angle and put the game out of reach for the Girlz.
And Cristiane soon rewrote the history books with her 63rd-minute strike. She lifted her shot over the wall, which beat Schneider, only for the ball to thump the underside of the crossbar and bounce over the goal line.
Cristiane, at 34 years and 25 days, surpassed Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo record set last year, of becoming the oldest player to notch a treble at the World Cup finals.
And Cristiane’s hat-trick was the first by a Brazilian in a Women’s World Cup match since their 7-1 thrashing of Mexico in June 1999,
Two minutes after scoring, Cistiane was replaced by Geyse kn order to save her legs for Thursday’s encounter with Australia.
And Geyse made an immediate impact, but Schneider was equal to her first effort on target, and should have done better when there was a dreadful mix-up in the area only to scupper her chance and direct the loose ball into the side netting.
The Girlz should have pushed forward more but were lacking in motivation after being given the runaround by their technically superior opponents.
And Jamaica should really have been seeking goals rather than defending, especially in the penultimate minute when Jody Brown’s cross was fumbled by Barbara. But fortunately for Brazil there was no one on hand to take advantage.
Brazil, who had not won in their past nine games, looked impressive as they registered their first triumph since July 2018 and should be a force to be reckoned with in France.
For the Girlz it is back to the drawing board as they have suffered their back-to-back defeats since July 2018, yet have only lost three times in 15 outings so are not a push-over.
Jamaica tackle Italy, 2-1 victors over Australia, in their next Group C opponents in Reims on Friday with Shaw keen to break her duck.
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