This time it was against Brazil at Wembley Stadium, to a record
70,584 crowd last night - the biggest audience for a Women's match
in the UK.
After 2 minutes we scored against the Samba Queens and
tournament favourites, after a well crafted pass from Karen Carney,
upon which Steph Houghton rounded Andreia (Brazil's Goalie) to
score from the tighest of angles to give Team GB a shock early
lead. Houghton now Team GB's top scorer is a left sided,
right footed full-back with the shooting skills to match any
attacking midfielder or striker and has really come into her own at
the Olympics, having broken through in last year's Women's World
Cup finals, where Team GB lost in the quarter finals on penalties
Brazil showed glimpses of sublime skill at times, but were
largely frustrated by a confident GB team who defended
exceptionally well, kept good posession and were bold in attack.
Although it was not a night for strikers scoring on either team, no
one could fault their work rate. GB striker, Kelly
Smith, maybe daunted by the huge ocassion at Wembley, had a penalty
comfortably saved by Andreia and Brazil's Marta said to be the best
woman footballer in the world was limited to ocassional sparks but
no real end product. Eni Aluko and Ellen White (late sub)
worked tirelessly to take chances and put Brazil's defence under
pressure, Kim Little, Jill Scott, Rachel Yankey (Sub), Karen
Carney, Anita Assante, super sub Farrah Williams won most midfield
battles and took their chances well. Captain Casey Stoney was
stately and assured on the back line, with Sophie Bradley often
clearing danger. Steph Houghton and Alex Scott made sure they
covered ground to help build up attacks and track back to defend.
Edging it as my Player of the match was keeper Karen Bardsley who
kept a clean sheet, made crucial saves and even got the woodwork in
to help! (I used to play in goal so am slightly biased). The
1-0 win saw us top the group and progress to the quarter final on
Friday evening where we will meet Canada (Kick off 19.45pm).
Hope Powell had her Olympians do a lap of applause for the
supporters to mark the achievement and enormity of the ocassion. It
was a truly emotional night and I am wondering how I will cope next
Thursday when GB are on the Wembley medal podium.
Women's football is so much better than men's in my book because
it is played with more pride, more passion and less prejudice (and
pay). My Wembley experience cost me a lot less than any men's
international match but will mean so much more to me and my family,
for years to come.
We left buzzing from the atmosphere, made all the more memorable
by the Brazil fans drumming and flag waving Mardia Gras procession.
It was also so great to see so many gay fans out en-mass (more
history in the making I suspect).
The only down side of watching live was not catching Faye
White's punditry and getting a site of Sue Smith's latest hair-do.
Hey Sue - Olympic Wringlets for the final please!