Playing a brand of soccer that was both attractive and determined, England came from behind to beat Brazil 2-1 in the opening game of Wednesday’s SheBelieves Cup doubleheader at Talen Energy Stadium.
Brazil opened the scoring in the 17th minute with an Andressa penalty kick. Marta won it with a fantastic piece of skill, racing up the left wing and cutting back sharply in the 18-yard box to send England captain Steph Houghton sliding to the ground.
Marta then hit the deck herself after taking a shoulder charge from Lucy Bronze. Referee Katja Koroleva immediately whistled for a penalty kick. Replays showed that Marta helped her own cause a bit, but it was probably the right call.
England started the second half strong, and got a deserved equalizer in the 48th minute. Ellen White scored it, finishing off a slick four-pass move that started with a throw-in deep in Brazil’s half.
Marta exited in the 68th to cheers from the sparse but hearty crowd that made it to Chester for the 4 p.m. kickoff. If it was the 33-year-old legend’s last game here, she gave the fans their money’s worth. A few minutes before winning the penalty kick, she bamboozled a few England defenders with some dribbling trickery in tight space on the right wing.
The Three Lionesses continued to dominate play after Marta’s departure, and got their second goal in the 75th. Beth Mead delivered it, smashing a majestic shot from the right wing that Brazil goalkeeper Aline had no chance to stop.
“Our character, coming from 1-0 down to 2-1 to win, was massive for us," Mead said. “We were fearless, we were more positive, and that’s the football we need to play.”
England is one of the favorites to win this summer’s World Cup, and this win will help them get attention among the big women’s soccer fan base in America. So will Saturday’s showdown with the U.S. in Nashville (4:30 p.m., Fox).
Manager Phil Neville, one of England’s men’s soccer greats, saluted a display he said reminded him of his old Manchester United team’s famous comebacks.