With this match billed as a winner-takes-all clash ahead of kickoff, it was the Reggae Girlz that held the advantage – boasting one point more than their Brazilian opponents. However, if Panama could muster a shock result against France in the concurrent game, both Jamaica and Brazil would progress.
JAM: Spencer; Blackwood, C Swaby, A Swaby, Wiltshire; Sampson; Brown, Spence, Primus, Matthews; Shaw
BRA: Letícia; Tamires, Rafaelle, Kathellen, Antônia; Adriana, Luana, Kremlin, Ary; Marta, Debinha
The dynamic of this high-stakes clash was changed after just two minutes, with news filtering through the ground of Panama’s shock early goal against a heavily-rotated French side. Should this match finish in a draw, and Panama hold on to their lead, both Jamaica and Brazil would progress!
Brazil were understandably keen to take the lead though, knowing that if France were able to clinch a draw, they’d be eliminated. Debinha sought to tee up Marta with just five minutes on the clock, but the forward’s strike failed to trouble Spencer.
The Seleção were by far the brighter of the two sides, as Rafaelle danced through the Jamaican midfield before playing in Debinha. She jinked past Allyson Swaby before putting Marta in a prime position to open the scoring, but her shot took a deflection into the grateful hands of the goalkeeper.
Once more, Rafaelle was the driving force of Brazil’s attacking output as she progressed up the pitch. Kerolin took charge of the ball as she found Tamires on her left, but the defender’s effort from close range was held by Spencer at the near post.
But an own goal in the concurrent game saw France restore parity, putting Brazil’s progression into doubt once more. The floodgates then opened for les Bleues, as they began to cruise to a comfortable win over their opponents.
Yet with the match in Melbourne still goalless, Jamaica sought to fire themselves into a shock lead as Spence played the ball out wide to Matthews. She delivered a cross to the near post that was met beautifully by Wiltshire, but the right-back wasn’t able to unleash a shot before the Brazil defence recovered to clear the danger.
Brazil looked destined to finally take the lead ten minutes into the second half, as Debinha looked to fire Kerolin’s dinked cross into the back of the net – but she was just beaten to the ball by Spence. The Jamaican ‘keeper almost gifted Debinha a second chance as she spilled the ball, though she was able to smother before the Seleção could pounce.
Pia Sundhage’s side were visibly becoming increasingly desperate for a goal, knowing that they’d be heading home if the result stayed like this. With ten minutes still to play, it looked as though they’d finally found that all-important goal as Allyson Swaby’s poor clearance seemed set to nestle in the top corner – but a great save from Spence ensured the Reggae Girlz didn’t become the masters of their own downfall.
But as the clock wore down, it looked as though Jamaica would put the final nail in the Brazil’s coffin – though Khadija Shaw blasted over the woodwork despite having Letícia beaten. Still, a draw would see them through.
With just seconds remaining in regulation time, Andressa was granted an opportunity to catapult Brazil into the knockout stages with a free-kick from distance. She went for goal, attempting to sneak an effort in at the near post – but Spence was able to claim it comfortably.
But in the dying seconds of stoppage time, it looked as though a corner would grant Brazil a lifeline. The penalty area was reminiscent of a pinball machine – but ultimately, Spence found herself claiming the ball as the Brazilian bench came to the realisation that their tournament would be ending here.
Jamaica held on to claim a point against Brazil, who bow out of the Women’s World Cup without reaching the knockout stages for the first time since 1995. The Reggae Girlz will face the winners of Group H – likely Colombia – on August 8.