Duda’s early strike to beat Colombia ignites Brazil’s W Gold Cup challenge

February 24 – In an exciting end-to-end encounter at the Snapdragon Stadium in San Diego Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 with a Duda Santos goal to secure their spot in the knockout rounds and send a message to the USA women’s team that they mean business.

The two South American footballing giants delivered a thriller. It was a game of passion and commitment with no lack of skill from two of the world’s best women’s teams.

Brazil were, just, deserving of the win and have quickly found form after their stumbling opening to the W Gold Cup. And on this performance they still have more to come.

Both Brazil and Colombia had opened their campaigns with wins over Concacaf opposition in Group B.

Colombia had demolished Panama 6-0 while Brazil had laboured to a 1-0 win over an obdurate Puerto Rico.

Brazil needed to find more clinical form to match their talent on the ball. Colombia were riding high on the confidence of their big win in round one.

The two nations have played each other eight times with Brazil winning six. The history wasn’t on Colombia’s side and nor was the luck on the night.

Brazil took the lead after just 4’. Colombian keeper Natalia Girardo’s pass out was intercepted on the edge of her box. Gabi Nunes found Duda Santos who made no mistake in punishing the mistake.

Colombia were rocked but they quickly recovered to take the challenge to Brazil. In the 10th minute Manuela Vanegas headed over from a corner.

Brazil were showing the individual touch and skill that makes them such a special nation in world football, but in the precocious talent of Real Madrid’s 18-year-old starlet Lina Caicedo, Colombia have someone to match it.

It was at times a prickly encounter. Brazil were dealing with Caicedo’s threat physically, though Colombia weren’t taking prisoners either.

On 11’ Girardo, who wasn’t inspiring confidence in the Colombian goal, again gave the ball away on the edge of her box. Adriana lofted the ball over the top of her and the bar.

Brazil were winning the ball too easily in midfield and attacking at pace. On 14’ Nunes drilled another shot over while three minutes later Adriana headed into Girardo’s hands from 4m out.

Rafaelle was increasingly dominant. Taking the ball from her centreback position she drove powerfully into the heart of the Colombian defence leaving a trail of defenders in her wake. Girado gathered by it and fed the left side where Caicedo took the play straight back at Brazil. Receiving the ball on halfway she drove deep and across the field to the left, eventually winning a corner. Daniela Montoya headed it over.

The challenges were becoming heavier and in the 34th minute Nunes was clipped on the top right hand corner of Colombia’s box. Yasmin hit the free kick into the side netting.

Colombia’s record goalscore Maria Usme responded with a miss of her own, hitting the ball wide after a melee in the Brazilian box.

The match had become ferociously end-to-end. At half time Brazil were ahead on possession and shots, and with the crucial early goal. Colombia were leading the foul count.

Brazil opened the second half with renewed pressure but not enough end product.

Colombian were down but they weren’t out. On 49’ Caicedo was released on the counter and rapidly joined by two Colombian forwards – her cross was intercepted for a corner. A minute later she was running at the Brazilian defence but couldn’t find a way through, but won another corner. Brazil countered, Colombia covered.

Caicedo was in the middle of everything meaningful in the Colombian attack. On the hour mark she had consecutive shots blocked and two minutes later headed over from another corner.

But it was Brazil who had the ball in the back of the net. A 65’ free kick on the edge of the Colombian box by Yasmin was met by Julia Bianchi’s head, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside by VAR.

On 71’ with Girardo beaten, a sliding Carolina Arias kept the ball out and Colombia in the game.

Colombia were under pressure but 86’ they fashioned their best chance of the half but Usme ballooned the final shot over. A minute later with Caicedo looming, Brazil keeper Luciana dived for a crucial interception of a ball across her box.

On 90’ and with the clock ticking into 7 minutes of added time, Brazilian shooters were blocked three times from a corner. Colombia had pressure of their own but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.

Colombia now need to beat Puerto Rico to secure their quarter final slot. Brazil need a point against Panama to win the group.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1712170484labto1712170484ofdlr1712170484owedi1712170484sni@n1712170484osloh1712170484cin.l1712170484uap1712170484