Brazil not eager to advance by settling for a draw

Sports

Brazil’s Marta shoots a penalty kick to score the opening goal during the Women’s World Cup Group C soccer match between Australia and Brazil at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier, France, Thursday, June 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

PARIS (AP) — A draw is all it would take for Brazil to advance in the Women’s World Cup.

Brazilian star Marta has zero desire to play 90 minutes aiming only to tie Italy in the Group C match Tuesday at Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes.

“To play for a draw? I don’t like to enter a match thinking about that,” she said.

Marta missed Brazil’s opening match against Jamaica because of a left thigh injury, but the forward returned for a 3-2 loss to Australia. Marta scored a record 16th career tournament goal against Australia and became the first player to score in five Women’s World Cups.

But Marta wants Selecao to advance to the round of 16, and coach Vadão agreed that a draw with Italy wasn’t part of the plan.

“We always need to play, 90 minutes is an eternity to think about a draw right away,” he said. “But we also need to be smart, obviously, knowing that a draw is in the tournament regulations.”

Brazil said Monday that midfielder Formiga will not play, and Marta said overcoming the loss of her longtime teammate will be a challenge against Italy.

“Formiga is an irreplaceable player. She is just different, from another planet, and the numbers won’t hide it,” Marta said. “But on the other hand, there comes an opportunity for younger players who can and want to show up their skills.”

Marta, meanwhile, could be limited in playing time. She said she was healthy and wanted to help Brazil.

“We won’t do anything crazy,” said Vadão. “We will talk at halftime to understand how she is feeling.”

Italy is 2-0 and already through to the round of 16 after victories over Australia and Jamaica. Cristiana Girelli scored a hat trick and Aurora Galli had two goals in the 5-0 rout of Jamaica that advanced Italy.

The Italians need just one point against Brazil to win the group, but that could be secondary to freshening legs through roster rotations.

JAMAICA-AUSTRALIA: The criticism surrounding Australia since its opening loss to Italy has not quieted, and the Matildas are tired of hearing about expectations. A team considered one of the tournament favorites, the Matildas feature Sam Kerr, their back-flipping captain and star.

She has urged her teammates to tune out criticism that followed the loss to Italy.

“Ah mate, It’s just outside noise, we don’t listen to the haters. Look at that performance coming back from the deep,” Kerr said. “I love these girls, they’re something else.”

A 1-0 win over Brazil earned Australia a spot in the round of 16, and the squad closes Group C play at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble against Jamaica.

Jamaica has lost both its matches and has been outscored 8-0. A win against Australia is about its only outside chance to advance.

Recapping Monday: France completed World Cup group play with a 3-0 record for the first time by beating Nigeria 1-0 at Rennes. Wendie Renard converted a penalty kick in the 79th minute after missing her first attempt. Referee Melissa Borjas awarded the penalty kick when Viviane Asseyi was knocked over by Ngozi Ebere and the call was upheld in a video review. Eberle was given her second yellow card of the match for the foul, causing Nigeria to finish a player short. Renard’s initial attempt was wide to the right of goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, but Borjas ordered the kick retaken because Nnadozie came off the line before the ball was kicked. Renard’s second try went in to Nnadozie’s right for her third goal of the tournament. France will play a third-place team on Sunday at Le Havre in the round of 16, and the winner will advance to a quarterfinal against the United States, Sweden or Spain. …. Germany won its group for the fifth consecutive time and avoided an immediate matchup with the United States by routing South Africa 4-0. Germany topped Group B with a 3-0 record and will play a third place team in its round of 16 match Saturday at Grenoble. South Africa was winless in group play and outscored 8-1. Two-time tournament champion Germany has not lost a match in group play since falling to Sweden in 1995. …Spain and China played to a scoreless draw that advanced both squads to the round of 16. Spain finished second in Group B behind Germany. Spain advanced to the knockout stage for the first time and will face the winner of Group F on Monday at Reims — likely the United States if the Americans win or draw in its final group match against Sweden. China has advanced to the knockout stage at each of its seven World Cup appearances. It finished third in the group at 1-1-1. … Norway knocked South Korea out of the tournament by scoring on two penalties in a 2-1 victory. South Korea went 3-0 in France with one goal while allowing eight. Norway advanced to the round of 16 as runners up in Group A.

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