FRANKFURT, Germany – Fancy footwork is a Brazilian tradition, and Erika produced some samba skills to lead her team to a 3-0 win over Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday at the Women's World Cup.
The South Americans secured the top spot in Group D and will play the United States in the quarterfinals in Dresden on Sunday.
After the African outsiders neutralized the heavy favorites with dogged defending for 49 minutes, Erika controlled a loose ball on her chest, then tapped it from her right foot to the left to send a volley flying past goalie Miriam from 13 yards.
Five minutes later, Marta, the world's top player, sent a low pinpoint cross into the center to set up Christiane for the second goal. Christiane celebrated with a jubilant body flip and back somersault, and then added the third goal from the penalty spot in injury time after Marta was brought down in the area.
Brazil won Group D with nine points.
"It was a really tough game for us. We didn't play the way we wanted," said Brazil coach Kleiton Lima.
Equatorial Guinea was already eliminated from the competition after two games. But for the third game in a row powerful forward Anonman proved she was one of the tournament's best players, constantly a threat with probing runs. Unfortunately, the team produced no support for the colorfully braided, 22-year-old captain.
Those in the big crowd of 35,859 who came to see another show from Marta — after her two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win over Norway — went away disappointed.
Marta got her touches, but her marker Bruna continually tracked her closer than a basketball player defends an opponent under the hoop. Still, by assisting on the second goal and then drawing a foul from Bruna to set up the penalty kick in injury time, Marta did plenty for coach Lima.
"She was brilliant and she delivered," he said.
The five-time FIFA player of the year is just two goals shy of matching Birgit Prinz's record of 14 World Cup goals, but never had a clear chance on goal.
Despite having already secured advancement after two victories, Brazil largely stuck to its strongest lineup when faced with the biggest outsider of the tournament. Not much worked in the first 45 minutes.
"We had a good talk at halftime and said we had to do better," Lima said.
Brazil came out with renewed spirit in the second half, and the goals soon started flowing.