Houghton the heroine as Britain beat Brazil

31 July 2012 10:46

Great Britain enjoyed their finest result in their brief history as a women's football nation as they beat female soccer superpower Brazil 1-0 to advance into the Olympic quarter-finals on Tuesday.

In front of a crowd of more than 70,000 at London's Wembley Stadium, Stephanie Houghton who has now scored in all three matches this tournament, gave the hosts a dream start when, in the second minute, she rounded goalkeeper Andreia for what turned out to be the game's only goal.

But Andreia ensured Brazil stayed in the match with a penalty save early in the second half of this Group E clash.

Brazil's Francielle tripped Eni Aluko as she bore down on goal and there was no doubt about the award of a spot-kick.

However, Andreia guessed correctly by diving to herleft to parry a penalty from Kelly Smith that was too close to the keeper.

But the save failed to inspire Brazil to an equaliser and Britain, in their first Olympic women's tournament, will now face Canada for a place in the semi-finals in Coventry on Friday.

"The whole day has just been fantastic," said Houghton. "It's unbelievable and amazing.

"To play in front of 70,000 people, you couldn't dream of a better day."

As for her goal, Houghton added: "I thought the goalkeeper would get there first, but I just got it past her and then hit it as fast as I could."

Earlier, world champions Japan advanced into the last eight after a goalless draw with South Africa in Cardiff.

Striker Kozue Ando and midfielder Asuna Tanaka wasted the best chances for Japan, who are now set for a last eight clash with Brazil.

For South Africa, the draw was their first point of the Games after they'd twice been well-beaten in their previous Group F matches.

Elsewhere defending champions the United States set up a last eight clash with New Zealand after a 1-0 win over North Korea.

Abby Wambach scored the only goal of the game in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000 at Old Trafford, the home of English giants Manchester United.

"It was a classic three points," said Wambach, whose 25th minute goal was her 141st in 185 international appearances."

The United States lost to Japan in last year's World Cup final and Wambach added: "We want to go all the way. That's the goal."

France too reached the quarter-finals, where they will play Sweden, after Elodie Thomis's early goal provede decisive in a 1-0 win over Colombia.

"We're really happy to play in a quarter-final, seeing as it's the first time a female French side is competing in the Olympics," said Louisa Necib, nicknamed the 'female Zinedine Zidane'.

Canada went through to the last eight following a 2-2 draw with Sweden at St James' Park, the home ground of north-east English side Newcastle.

New Zealand too will be in the knockout stage after a 3-1 Group E win over Cameroon in Coventry. The Kiwis got through, despite losing their first two matches, as one of the two best third-placed sides along with Canada.

Source: AFP