Fine defense paves way for Spain (2-1) in 29-24 victory over Brazil (2-1)
Spain entered Future Arena on Wednesday morning well aware that they needed to slow down Brazil’s tempo to have a fighting chance. Spain did just that. By individually marking Ana Paula Belo and smothering Brazil on the fast breaks, Spain caused Brazil’s lightning fast pace to a screeching halt.
Spain took it to the Brazilians early, stretching the defense thin and finding gaps in short range and from the flanks.
Brazil tried to force the plays on the offensive end early on, looking to make the play themselves rather than feed the ball to their castmates and stretch out Spain’s defense.. It didn’t work well for them. Spain managed to close up the gaps that Brazil looked to break through, forcing ill advised shots.
Ana Paula Belo particularly had a frustrating first half. With her being individually marked, Belo had just two opportunities to score in the opening 30 minutes of play.
The porous Brazilian defense was less effective, typically pushing one or two players up from the defensive line, giving Spain the opportunity to weave their way through the gaps. Spain couldn’t make all of those opportunities count, though, missing a couple easy chances to extend their lead that was once six goals.
A late goal from Deonise Fachinello pulled Brazil to within three at the end of the half.
Brazil needed to find some sort of strategy to get through Spain and keeper Silvia Navarro. Brazil looked to Fachinello and Fernanda Franca da Silva to make up for the scoring the Belo would usually provide.
A window opened up for Brazil as Spain were given a double two minute suspension early in the second half, but Jessica Quintino wasted it after blowing an easy opportunity to score off the right wing.
Nerea Pena was phenomenal for Spain. The left back, who scored eight goals, continually picked apart the Brazilian defense.
Alexandra do Nascimento brough Brazil to within just two goals 15 minutes into the second half with a strike from the right wing.
Drama continued to build in the final 10 minutes of play, with Brazil still down by just two goals.
Brazil drew the two minute suspension from Patricia Elorza in the 22nd minute. Just moments later a penalty by Marta Mengue gave Brazil the double power play. Da Silva capitalized on a costly Spanish turnover in the 24th minute, bringing Brazil down 24-25 in the 24th minute of play.
But they just couldn’t make the most of it, and it was the Spanish defense again that held tough in the closing minutes. Fachinello was again drawn into a two minute suspension of her own, which proved costly for Brazil as Elizabeth Pinedo scored off the fast break. Pinedo scored six attempts during the match.
Another two minute suspension for Brazil in the final two minutes of play sealed the victory for Spain, who were up by three goals and had the one player advantage.
Despite the loss, Brazil are still on track to reach the quarterfinals.