Pan-Am Games: Aussies girls give Brazil a fright

December 27, 2011 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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Two late goals helped Brazil prevail 3-1 in Monday morning’s match against Australia, but our girls gave them an almight fright – and have put the rest of the competition on notice that they are a team to be reckoned with as they vie for a spot in the medal rounds.

Team spirit

A brilliant start by our Jewish Matildas silenced the home side, with captain-coach Tal Karp scoring after 10 minutes.

Brazil looked shell shocked under a torrent of pressure from the underdog Aussies.

But they showed their quality in the end, equalising just before half-time, before snatching the winning goals late into the second-half. It took three superb goals to breakdown a resilient Aussie defence.

With most of the travelling Aussie contingent in Sao Paulo cheering on, the Green and Gold enjoyed a spirited opening to the match. The girls worked tirelessly to put the Brazilians under immense pressure every time they had possession.

Brazil might have had home court advantage, a national youth level goalkeeper and a 23-player squad at their disposal, but it was the Aussies that looked like the bookies’ favourites, enjoying all the early running and territory.

On 10 minutes, Australia won a free-kick. Genia Avram floated a delightful dead-ball to the back-stick, where former Matildas and Melbourne Victory star Karp showed all her class with a bullet header into the bottom corner.

Australia were off to a dream start.

Avram, alongside pocket dynamo Raphaela Waltman, thwarted wave after wave of Brazilian attacks. Right-back Lauren Broit and right-midfielder Lani Kahn were building a fortress down their side – winning almost every challenge and showing touches of quality playing the ball out from the back.

The midfield, marshalled by Karp, had Brazil sweating. This was no walk in the park for the favourites. Every challenge was hotly contested and our girls were enjoying a decent share of the territory.

The left side of the field wasn’t seeing as much action, but when Naomi Mossenson got into the game, the Brazilian defence was scrambling to deal with her quality.

Brazil had a shout for a penalty, but otherwise, Australia’s girls dealt admirably with the home side’s theatrics and gamesmanship in the first-half.

But with every attack they enjoyed, Brazil were inevitably closing in on an equaliser. It came just before half-time, with a classy long-range drive into the bottom corner.

With the score at 1-1 at the break, a boilover was still well and truly on the cards. Australia was showing great character and spirit – their work rate, as Karp told the girls, had the Brazilians “stressed”.

That intensity continued well into the second-half. Karp and Mark Abro tinkered with the line-up, using Genia as a target up front, with Mossenson moving into the centre to form a hard working engine room with Alice Kriesler. Karp moved back into the centre of defence.

Brazil saw a lot more of the ball in the second period as Australia tried to cramp the space and make it difficult for Brazil to play their way through.

It worked deep into the second half, thanks to some impressive resolve. Youngsters like Gemma Adelman, moved from striker to right midfield, and Laura Waltman, were inspirational, throwing themselves about in every challenge.

Terri Lazarus and Deena Metz were stationed at right and left back in the second stanza, and they made life exceptionally difficult for Brazil’s wingers.

When the defence was breached, Amy Seskin was superb in goals – and made a breathtaking save at full stretch to her right to keep the scores level.

It seemed like Australia’s game plan was paying off – until a Brazilian midfielder found herself with time, just outside the box, to strike a long-range volley into the top corner.

It took something special to break Australia down, and Brazil had that quality at their disposal.
Our girls did not drop their heads and continued to hassle, fight and work tremendously hard off the ball.

But Brazil sealed the result when they worked some magic with a top class set piece with a few minutes on the clock.

Late on, Avram had a free-kick plucked out of the top corner by Brazil’s keeper, and then Adelman carved out an excellent opportunity for Lani Kahn, whose shot squeezed just past the post. But 3-1 it remained, a result which Australia’s girls can take great heart from!

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