Kirby headed in less than two minutes into the contest but England could not add to their lead despite a string of chances – most of which came through the impressive Nikita Parris.
Brazil goalkeeper Barbara made a couple of fine saves in the second half but while England’s hunt for a second goal was frustrated it as just as noticeable how little Carly Telford was troubled in the opposite goal.
England wasted no time in taking the lead. Parris’ runs down the right would quickly become a theme in the match and the first one paid immediate dividends as her dinked cross found the head of Kirby who turned it home off the underside of the bar.
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It was simply the opening gambit in a first half full of England attacks, with Parris at the centre of them.
They went close to a carbon copy of the opening in the 15th minute but this time Kirby got her angles wrong, while Rachel Daly could not make clean contact on another Parris cross.
The Manchester City forward decided to try herself when she burst into the box again but after shooting straight at goalkeeper Barbara she sent the rebound over.
Brazil were creating little going forward – with Telford grateful to see a first-time effort from Debinha go wide in the 14th minute – and their problems grew when star player Marta made an early exit with a hamstring injury.
England made a slower start to the second half as Brazil sat further back with a more compact shape.
And the first clean opportunity of the half went to the visitors just before the hour mark when Alex Greenwood’s sloppy backpass played in Raquel but Telford – getting the start with regular stopper Karen Bardsley injured – was quickly out to smother the shot.
England continued to work hard to create chances, but Barbara did enough to divert Beth Mead’s cross as Parris looked for a tap-in, while the goalkeeper got down well to keep out Kirby’s shot.
Daly linked up well with Mead before hitting a powerful shot in the 72nd minute but it was straight at Barbara.
The best chance to add to the lead came six minutes from time when Greenwood’s cross from deep found Daly but Barbara made a fine save to keep out her powerful shot.
England’s focus then turned to seeing the game out and though Brazil bossed possession for the final minutes they could not trouble Telford again.
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