Brazil Marta looks on during the game with Jamaica. Alamy Stock Photo

Marta's last dance comes to an end as Brazil icon bows out

Goalless draw in Melbourne sees Jamaica advance to last-16 of World Cup.

A STUNNING END for an icon of the game.

Just not how Marta envisaged as Jamaica advance at Brazil’s expense.

None of the allure can be taken from her legacy but as she sat on the bench – silent and motionless – in the seconds after the full-time whistle it was regret and anguish that left her bereft.

Jamaica boss Lorne Donaldson was the opposite, flinging his body onto the pitch with a tumble in a state of ecstatic abandon.

The contrast could not have been greater.

Brazil’s World Cup has come to a close with a tame goalless draw, bringing down the curtain of the 37-year-old’s illustrious international career.

For the first time she will not get a chance to perform in the knockout stages.

There was no history-making goal for Marta, who was attempting to become the first player – man or woman – to score in six successive World Cups.

A glorious journey that has spanned continents, beginning with her debut in America in 2003 and the heartache of a final defeat to Germany in China four years later, concludes in Melbourne some 15,000 kilometres from where she was born in Dois Riachos.

Marta has inspired generations in every corner between those two points of the globe.

Jamaica, led by 26-year-old Bunny Shaw, among them.

Sadly, one more show of defiance and ingenuity could not be concocted and when she was replaced among a triple substitution with 10 minutes remaining Marta’s time was finally up.

Donaldson teed up the encounter with a kind of relish for the expected drama to come. “There are going to be goals in this game and we have to be a part of it too. We need to play as hard as we can. This is what the players have been working for. Mentally we have to persevere and be strong – physically and mentally we have to be resilient and don’t say no.”

august-2-2023-melbourne-australia-chantelle-swaby-4-of-jamaica-and-marta-10-of-brazil-fight-for-the-ball-during-a-2023-womens-world-cup-group-f-match-between-jamaica-and-brazil-at-the-melbour Marta is blocked by Chantelle Swaby. Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

So, of course, it ended in a stalemate.

But those traits he demanded of his players were evident as they set about their task of frustrating Brazil and ensuring they got the point required to qualify for the last 16.

Inside five minutes Marta had a chance to settle any nerves for her teammates and get that historic goal. She wriggled free in the box, worked the space for a shot but fired a tame effort into the hands of Rebecca Spencer when teammate Ary Borges was screaming for it to be squared to her on the right.

The veteran replied with a look of acceptance, although insisted she didn’t see her in space – the type she has perfected over two decades and the reason she is also the all-time leading scorer in World Cups (men’s or women’s) with 17 goals.

An 18th looked as if it would be possible as Brazil continued to probe in the early exchanges.

On 11 minutes Marta again linked up superbly with Debinha in the box but was crowded out as she let rip. Borges was jumping up and down with her arms in the air when the ball trickled away to safety but the pass was never on as Donaldson’s side carried out their duties with tenacity.

Brazil began to toil as the first half wore on but Marta was again instrumental to the one moment that caused serious concern. She dropped deeper outside the box and produced a perfectly weighted reverse pass to wrong foot the Jamaica centre backs and give Debinha a sight of goal.

Her first touch was poor and instead of taking it into her path to allow the shot Tiernny Wiltshire had read the danger and made up the ground to cover and clear.

Jamaica only grew in confidence after the break and when Chantelle Swaby was alert to a clever Marta chop inside the box, standing her ground and refusing her the space for a shot, it was the last real threat posed in the penalty box.

On 65 minutes Marta stood over a corner and raised one hand to signal the pre-planned routine.

Nothing happened.

She shouted at her teammates in the box, raised her hand again and then fed a short corner to the front post when Kerolin finally switched on.

The routine came of nothing as Marta’s resulting cross to the back post was cleared.

The danger was gone.

Marta’s race was run.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel