Brazil and the United States of America (USA) played out a 1-1 draw in its second group-stage game of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.
The United States – making four changes from its previous game – decided to walk on a different path than it did against India.
Melina Rebimbas (168 cm) gave way for a shorter and agile Amalia Villarreal (157 cm), while Mia Bhuta, Nicollette Kiorpes and Jordyn Bugg made their first starts in the tournament.
Instead of controlling the ball in the air, USA head coach Natalia Astrain opened her books on Spanish football and printed them in the minds of the girls in white.
Though it was not an exact emulation, the Gods of tika-taka did smile upon the USA when it got the breakthrough in the 33rd minute.
Onyeka Gamero – making a run along the right flank – beat Alice and Guta, looked up and crossed to Nicollette Kiorpes on her left, in the centre of the box. The forward – replacing Taylor Suarez – slotted it home with ease, breaking the deadlock.
However, the lead did not last long. Four minutes later, Brazil’s Johnson passed from the right to Carol in the midfield.
The No. 10 composed herself, turned and then launched a shot that rattled the net, leaving Victoria Safradin – the US goalie – on the ground.
Both sides started on the attack from kick-off and it was Simone Jatoba’s side (Brazil) sticking to its affliction to try and score early. (It had scored in the fifth minute in the previous match)
In the 3rd minute, a through ball for Johnson was intercepted by Jordyn Bugg with a timely challenge in the box. The 16-year-old, making her national team debut in the previous match, justified her selection, staying put at the back.
Seven minutes later, Mia came close to scoring when she started an attack, delivering a through ball from the left for Amalia.
The latter crossed in the centre, and Mia poached on time to shoot, which was blocked by Guta.
But the 17-year-old shot again on the rebound as the ball flew just over the net, earning applause from a chunk of American fans in the stadium.
Six minutes into the second half, Onyeka – the player of the match in the previous game – was back in attack again. Making a run through the middle, she passed to Amalia, who had made a run behind Guta.
Guta made her ground in the last second to deny a shot by the forward.
The centre-back made a forward run minutes later, to escape the individual marking of the States and passed to Aline in the final third.
Savannah King – whose rough play saw Brazil’s Dudinha limp off the field leave the field, also brought down Brazil’s No. 7 Aline to see the second yellow card of the match.
Jatoba’s side – starting an unchanged side for the second game in a row – showed clear signs of fatigue with Brazil making two substitutions at half-time (In: Juju, Grazy, Out: Ana Julia, Alice).
The USA almost scored in the 66th minute, when Cameron Roller delivered a buccaneering pass for Giselle Thomson. The defender – who had sprinted along the right flank beating Brazil’s defence – shot on target.
Leilane – Brazil’s goalkeeper and one of its most significant players in the game – made an important save and improved on another ten minutes later with spontaneous reflexes denying Charlotte Kohler her second goal in the tournament.
Brazil tried to play its wild card Rhaissa (replacing striker Johnson), who had scored the winner in the U-17 CONMEBOL Championship.
But tight defending by Natalia Asatrain’s side, including the introduction of taller players (Ella Emri –175 cm and Nicola Fraser – 177cm) to maintain the aerial advantage, ended the match all square after 90 minutes of a scintillating contest.
Match result: Brazil 1 (Carol 37’) drew against USA 1 (Nicollette Kiorpes 33’)