Zanaretto brace as Brazil cruise past Argentina into semis

March 2 – Brazil turned on the style for a 5-1 win over Argentina at the BMO Stadium in Los Angeles to secure their semi-final spot in San Diego next week where they will face either Mexico or Paraguay.

A brace from Bia Zanaretto powered the win which would have been a lot more but for goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros’s commanding performance. Argentina scored a late consolation goal, but Brazil scored their fifth in added time as if to emphasise their dominance.

Brazil outshot the Argentinians 24 to 6 and at times built passages of possession and movement that were on a different level.

Argentina vs Brazil is a South American classic in the men’s game – it will eventually become one in the women’s game as well, but it isn’t there yet.

Argentina coach German Portanova was keen to emphasise pre-tournament that this is Argentina’s women’s team and not the men’s team of Lionel Messi and friends. Portanova point was that they are very much in the early stages of the Argentinian women’s project. Even so, he has a team that is ranked 31 in the world and opened their group phase with a draw against Mexico before beating the Dominican Republic.

But in Brazil, Argentina were up against a team with a lot of precocious talent.

Brazil had come through the group stage unbeaten, improving with every performance, and qualifying for the quarter finals with three wins as the second ranked team. With this match they moved up another gear

Argentina qualified as the best ranked third-placed group team.

Both teams traded attacks early on. On 4 minutes Brazil’s Vitoria Yaya fed Gabi Nunes who blasted over.

Two minutes later Argentina’s Dalila Ippolito spotted Brazil keeper Adriana outside her box – she has a habit of going wandering – but her lofted shot over the top just dribbled past the post.

Gabi Nunes was starting to make an impression up front for Brazil and fired into Argentina keeper Laurina Oliveros on 16’.

Two minutes later Brazil were ahead. Bia Zanaretto found space on the right and crossed to an incoming Vitoria Yaya who headed past Oliveros – 1-0.

Brazil could have been two up five minutes later. A Zanaretto free kick saw Gabi glance her header wide.

Brazil were starting to pepper Argentina’s goal.

Just after the half hour Brazil had their second. A scrambled clearance from a Brazil free kick came out to Yasmim who fired her shot back across the box into the left corner of Oliveros’ goal – 2-0.

Brazil continued where they had left off in the second half. Seven minutes after the restart Rafaelle stole the ball in Argentina’s half and drove towards goal, finding Zanaretto in the box who hit the back of the net with her second attempt – 3-0.

On 62’ Brazil had fourth goal with a flowing move that saw eight different Brazilian players touch the ball before it came to Yaya who crossed to Gabi who headed in unmarked. So simple, so trademark Brazil.

To their credit Argentina battled on and on 82’ pulled one back. A breakaway by Marianna Larroquette saw her chip Luciana who once again was off her line.

In added timeBrazil added a fifth and Zanaretto had her second. With Brazilian players swarming the Argentinian box the ball came to Zanaretto who hammered a left footed shot from outside the box into Oliveros’ left hand corner – 5-1 Brazil and a return trip to San Diego booked for a semi-final against either Mexico or Paraguay.

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