Women's sports: Debinha's brace sinks lacklustre Lionesses in front of packed out Riverside stadium

England Women v Brazil Women - International Friendly

Phil Neville’s England side took on Brazil for the second time this year this afternoon, the first of their two games across the week.

The last time these two sides met was in the SheBelieves Cup earlier in the year with goals from Ellen White and Beth Mead securing a 2-1 win. 

Arsenal’s Mead featured yet again this afternoon, alongside Taylor and Parris upfront as the Lionesses searched for their first win in what would be five games.

Rampant first half
England was dominant in the first half and bar a few moments; Brazil was seemingly out of the game for the most part.

Immediately from the whistle, England was looking to attack, and their first chance came from a Walsh long ball which Parris headed on to put Taylor through on goal – but Barbara was off her line quickly and equal to it.

Mead started the game brightly and was at the heart of England’s attacking threat. She played a wicked ball across the face of goal which Parris couldn’t get on the end of and moments later whipped a ball into the box which was eventually bundled into the back of the net from Taylor. The Reign FC striker was pulled up for being offside, and the goal was therefore disallowed.

Mead then came close herself after a lovely bit of skill saw her beat two defenders before her shot curled just beyond the far post, leaving the game goalless at half-time.

Pia’s masterclass
At the halfway point, newly appointed Brazil manager Pia Sundhage replaced Marta with Ludmila and completely changed the dynamic of the game.

Suddenly Brazil was very much in this game and looked a serious threat to England’s otherwise self-assured defence.

The breakthrough came minutes after the break – with the England defence stood still, Debinha latched onto a cross and headed the ball towards goal. In what should have been a routine save, it turned into a bit of a howler for Earps. The ball squeezed under her body into the back of the net, leaving England dumbfounded.

From that point on, England thoroughly struggled to get a hold of the game or formulate any real goal scoring opportunities – which is to be expected when the striker leading your line only has four goals in 15 NWSL appearances. 

England Women v Brazil Women - International Friendly

With England’s lack of quality in the second half came a phenomenal performance from attacker Debinha who – just 20 minutes after getting her first – bagged her second to put the game beyond England seemingly.

The biggest positive from an English perspective was the introduction of Beth England who, quite frankly, should’ve been on from the start. Her energy, pace and hunger were everything that had been lacking. The Chelsea forward went on to get a goal back for the Lionesses after getting on the end of Houghton’s ball and burying it beyond Barbara.

The closest they came to an equaliser saw England at the heart of it again with her rebounded effort falling to Staniforth who headed towards goal and would’ve scored but for a tremendous last-ditch save.

Other than Mead and Williamson in the first half followed by England in the latter stages of the second, there were not many positives to take from that England performance. 

England Women v Brazil Women - International Friendly

Neville was given a lesson in game management and tactics by Pia Sundhage, and his lack of managerial experience at a high level was damning in the demise of his side in the second half.

With four losses and one draw in their last five fixtures, Neville is surely living on borrowed time as the manager of England; that is, of course, if the FA genuinely care about the success of their women’s national team.

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