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London 2012 Olympics

Houghton goal caps Team GB’s nine-point group stage

Team Great Britain rode a goal from Stephanie Houghton in the second minute through the remaining 88 to earn the full nine points in their group and head into the qualifiers. With their 1-0 win over Brazil, they also remained the only team in women’s Olympic soccer who has yet to concede a goal to their opponents.

Team Great Britain showed great promise for making a medal run with consistent play, excellent defending against the flair of Marta and Brazil, and building play better than any other team in the group stages so far.

Stephanie Houghton found the back of the net only two minutes into the game after Brazil once again showed their defensive weaknesses on set plays. Houghton, who scored her third goal of the tournament, found herself buried under a pile of her teammates shortly after.

First, Houghton beat Erika, then had to leap over a diving Andreia attempting to make the save. Houghton finished by sending the ball through the legs of Erika to give Great Britain the lead.

On the sidelines, Coach Hope Powell gestured for her players to settle back into the game, urging calm and focus.

Team GB had to withstand multiple shots from Brazil, although most were off target. Cristiane nearly extended her scoring streak, but was denied by the goalpost in the 23rd minute. At full time, this remained Brazil’s best scoring chance of the match.

The most notable other chance in the game for either team was the result of a few moments of play building up to a chance for Great Britain. Brazil’s Francielle dragged down Eniola Aluko inside the box, leading to a moment of doubt that a penalty kick would be called despite clear intent to stop a goal-scoring opportunity. Eventually, referee Carol Chenard of Canada showed Francielle the yellow, and Kelly Smith stepped to the spot with a chance to double the lead. The shot was low and hard, but Brazil’s Andreia read Smith’s body language correctly and came up with a huge save.

Wembley Stadium was rocking with over 70,000 attending, and the Team GB supporters were out in full force to create a great atmosphere for the game. Great Britain will meet Canada in the semifinals with New Zealand finishing a 3-0 win over Cameroon. Brazil will next see Japan, and their defensive efforts will need to improve dramatically to withstand the clinical execution of Homare Sawa, Aya Miyama, and the rest of the world champions.


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