England Women’s World Cup hangover continued as two second-half goals from Brazil striker Debora consigned them to another defeat at a sold-out Riverside Stadium.
The Lionesses paid for missed opportunities in a dominant first half and despite an 80th-minute header from Beth England, Phil Neville’s side went down 2-1 – their fifth game without a win.
Neville had stressed the importance of stemming a run of poor results in the wake of their semi-final loss to the US, which saw defeats to Sweden and Norway and a below-par draw with Belgium.
He was boosted by the return of Jordan Nobbs for the first time in 18 months after a knee injury, but a series of missed chances before the break cost England dear.
Nikita Parris, Beth Mead and Jodie Taylor all came close as Brazilian superstar Marta was marked out of the game by Lucy Bronze, who picked up her UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award before kick-off.
Keira Walsh fired England’s first shot wide after just three minutes, then a neat flick-on by Parris saw Taylor just beaten to the ball by on-rushing Brazil keeper Barbara.
The lively Parris was denied another chance by a superb interception by Beatriz, then Jill Scott headed home a Mead cross only to be narrowly penalised for offside.
Parris was denied again by Barbara before England missed two fine openings in as many minutes just before the half-hour mark.
First Mead picked up a long ball from Steph Houghton and cut in from the left, beating two Brazilian defenders before firing across the face of goal.
Then Taylor was served up an even better chance when a Brazilian mistake sent her clean through on goal, only to push wide with her final touch and loft her eventual shot onto the roof of the net.
The Lionesses’ missed opportunities came back to haunt them four minutes after the re-start when Brazil went in front.
Debora met a Tamires cross from deep on the left with a header that squirmed beneath England keeper Mary Earps and into the back of the net.
Brazil looked much tighter in the second period and restricted England to a speculative effort from Parris which was comfortably gathered by Barbara.
The visitors doubled their lead in the 67th minute when Debora scored her second, lofting a deflected effort over Earps after a cross from substitute Maria.
The goal was met by virtual silence from a crowd of 29,238- a record for an England Women’s game outside Wembley – and dented Neville’s hopes of igniting a revival.
A double substitution in the 74th minute, which saw England and Lucy Staniforth replace Taylor and Parris respectively, paid off when the former directed a fine header past Barbara six minutes later.
And Staniforth came agonisingly close to grabbing a deserved draw from England when her header on the stroke of full-time was clawed off the line by the Brazilian keeper.
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