By Beto Alfaya
Torneio Internacional Cidade de Sao Paulo opened today in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The four-team tournament features Brazil, Canada, the Netherlands, and Mexico. Canada began the tournament with a 5-0 win over the Netherlands. Christine Sinclair, who signed today with the Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer, scored two goals for Canada as did Diana Matheson (Lillestrøm SK Kvinner). Josee Belanger (Amiral de Québec) also scored for Canada, and keeper Stephanie Labbe (Pitea) earned the shutout. Diamond Simpson, recently called up from the Canadian U-18 camp, earned her first international cap.
In the first half, the Netherlands tried to stop the talented Canadian side, but the first half ended, 1-0. Canada had a nice goal scored by Christine Sinclair in the 14th minute. In the second half, the goals started to come for Canada. In the 52nd minute, Sinclair on a nice through ball, dribbled the goalkeeper, crossed it to Josée Belanger wide out touching from 10 meters to the empty goal.
Visibly tired, the Dutch couldn’t do much more than just watch the Canadian team show their nice soccer. In the 56th minute, Diana Matheson scored on a penalty kick, shooting on the low left side of the Dutch goalkeeper. In the 66th minute, Matheson scored a beautiful goal shooting from 20 meters. The spinning ball hit the far post and bounced into the goal. In the 76th minute, Sinclair sealed the Canadian victory with a rebound from her own shot.
In the second game, Brazil beat Mexico, 3-0, at Pacaembú Stadium in São Paulo. Marta scored two penalty kicks in the second half. Cristiane scored in the first half. She went down with what looked like a shoulder injury in the second half and didn’t return. The game started with the Mexican team marking efficiently the Brazilian midfield, however at 21st minute, Cristiane sent to the net after the Mexican goalkeeper Erika Vanegas failed to deflect Grazi’s cross.
Mexico kept marking well and physically, Brazil trashed some opportunities with the attack trio, Cristiane, Marta, and Grazi. And the game went to the second half with Brazil leading by a score of 1-0. In the second half, Brazil coach Kleiton Lima corrected some midfield positions and advanced Formiga, and also released Rosana to attack by the wing. It made a difference, and Brazil had many chances to score until to the 56th minute when Marta was fouled in the box. Marta scored on the PK to make it 2-0 in favor of Brazil.
Four minutes later, in the 60th minute, Cristiane on an individual play, challenged a Mexican defender, making three stepovers, she hit the defender and went down, on a very contesting penalty call. Marta converted to make it 3-0. On the play, Cristiane got injured (shoulder) and was substituted by the young, talented Thais, the new Brazilian promise who plays for Santos FC. After taking the 3-0 lead, Lima made the other two allowed substitutions, testing players, taking out Grazi for Danielle and Rosana for Joice.
Brazil still dominated the game, however with few scoring opportunities, until the the shot from the youngster Thais, which escaped from the Mexican goalkeeper, passing through her legs, almost crossing the line on a spinning ball, making its turn to outside goal. Brazil will play the Netherlands on Sunday.
Remaining schedule: Dec. 12: Brazil vs the Netherlands and Mexico vs. Canada; Dec. 15: Mexico vs. the Netherlands and Brazil vs. Canada; Dec. 19: Championship and third-place match.