Cristiane hat-trick snaps Brazil's losing streak
Brazil ended their nine-match losing streak to record a 3-0 win over Jamaica and get their World Cup campaign off to a fine start.
The tournament debutants put in a spirited performance but Brazil were comfortably the better team and three goals from Cristiane handed them a much-needed win. Were it not for the efforts of Jamaica's 19-year-old goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, however, the scoreline could have been much more convincing.
Though Jamaica showed some early intent, the opening minutes of the game were dominated by Brazil. Debinha had already had a shot smothered by Schneider when the lively Andressa sent in a brilliant cross which Cristiane met and glanced into the bottom corner.
Andressa was the most influential figure in the first half and was at the heart of all of Brazil’s positive play. One more she played a fine ball to put Debinha through on goal, only for Schneider to make a fine save and would surely have scored herself were it not for Cristiane taking an inopportune touch to take the ball away from her.
Schneider was no less an impressive a figure and kept her side in it by denying Andressa from the penalty spot after Laetitia Santos’ cross was handled by Allyson Swaby.
At the other end, Khadija Shaw cut a lonely figure up top but twice forced Barbara into fine saves, first with an effort from the edge of the box which was tipped over, second with the goalkeeper atoning for some poor handling with quick reactions.
Brazil started the second half very much on the front foot and before too long had their second goal. Debinha made a fine run forward and fed the ball to Andressa, who played a great pass across the face of goal, which was met by the sliding Cristiane. Konya Plumber made a fine effort to prevent it from going in but it was in vain.
The hat-trick followed soon after. Plumber took down Cristiane on the edge of the box and the veteran forward picked herself up to strike a fine free kick which hit the underside of the bar and bounced just over the line.
With the game effectively won, Brazil had a couple more chances to stretch their lead. Schneider made a fine stop to deny Geyse and Ludmila put a pair of efforts wide when she should have done better but Brazil’s victory had long been assured.
This was undoubtedly a fine performance from Brazil but, given their pre-tournament losing streak and the doubts over Marta's fitness, can they be expected to match it when they come up against stronger teams? For Jamaica, they will be proud of the spirit they showed but they were certainly reliant on Schneider for keeping the scoreline respectable.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Going into a World Cup opener on a terrible run of form and without the star power of Marta, Brazil needed their more experienced players to step up and that’s exactly what Cristiane did, scoring a hat-trick with three very different goals. Honourable mentions certainly go to Andressa, who was brilliantly creative in the first period despite her penalty miss and Schneider, who made a string of superb saves on her World Cup debut.
Brazil: Barbara 5, Laetitia Santos 6, Monica 6, Tamires 6, Formiga 6, Thaisa 6, Andressa 8, Beatriz 6, Cristiane 9, Debinha 7
Substitutes: Geyse 6, Ludmila 6, Erika 5
Jamaica: Schneider 8, Bond-Flasza 6, Plumber 7, Swaby 5, Blackwood 5, Solaun 5, Swaby 5, Sweatman 5, Matthews 6, Shaw 7, Carter 7
Substitutes: Brown 5, Asher 6, Cameron N/A
Cristiane has given Brazil the lead. Andressa puts in a delicious ball from the left and the 34-year-old striker meets it brilliantly to head it beyond Schneider and into the bottom corner.
The best two players on the park so far have arguably been Andressa and Schneider and as the Brazil attacker looks to double her side's lead from the spot, the Jamaica keeper gets down low to her right to make the save.
It was a poor penalty but Schneider's impressive day goes on.
Brazil are 2-0 up and it's Cristiane again!
Debinha makes a fine forward run and feeds Andressa, who puts in a brilliant ball across the face of goal. Cristiane is there at the far post and although Plumber tries her best to keep it over the line, it had crossed and Brazil are two up.
Cristiane has her hat-trick!
Plumber takes down Cristiane on the edge of the box and the forward picks herself up to strike a brilliant left-footed free kick in off the under side of the bar.
Brazil have broken a run of nine straight losses as they get their World Cup campaign off to a solid start. Cristiane is also the oldest ever player (34 years, 25 days) to score a hat-trick at a World Cup, beating the record set by Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo last year.