Germany and Brazil made impressive starts to their Women’s World Cup campaigns on Monday with thumping victories against debutants Morocco and Panama respectively.
Ary Borges scored the first hattrick of the tournament as she helped Brazil beat Panama 4-0. Earlier in the day, Germany had beaten Morocco 6-0.
Borges scored two in the first half of a dominant Brazilian performance before she capped off a fine World Cup debut with a third goal midway through the second half.
She was eventually replaced by Brazilian great Marta 15 minutes before the end of the game, receiving a standing ovation from all of those inside Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, Australia.
Bia Zaneratto scored Brazil’s other goal as Pia Sundhage’s team moved to the top of Group F, putting Marta and co in a commanding position to qualify top of the group after France’s surprise draw with Jamaica on Sunday. Victory over France on Saturday would guarantee qualification to the knockouts.
Never in doubt
It was a momentous game for a Panama team playing in the competition for the first time. The magnitude of the occasion was evident as many of Panama’s players were reduced tears during the national anthems.
Once the game kicked off, the gulf in class was evident with Brazil dominating in all facets of the game; enjoying more possession, creating chances at will and restricting any potential Panama attacks.
It took just under 20 minutes for Brazil to take a deserved lead, Borges getting her first as she headed home from a pinpoint cross from the left.
The 23-year-old had her second just before half time, once again connecting with a cross from the left. Her header was saved but she was able to convert the rebound.
After the break, the Seleção’s lead quickly blossomed to three through a masterful team goal.
Some neat combination play and an accurate cross fell to Borges in the center of the goal. With just the goalkeeper standing between her and a hattrick, she unselfishly provided an exquisite backheel to set up a simple chance for Zaneratto to slam home.
Borges was rewarded later though, getting her hattrick through yet another header.
Alexandra Popp scored twice as Germany dominated Morocco in what was the biggest scoreline of the Women’s World Cup so far.
Popp, 32, headed home twice in the opening half to steer her country to an important three points in Group H ahead of Colombia’s match against South Korea on Tuesday.
Within seconds of the restart after halftime, Klara Bühl scored Germany’s third as the European side pounced upon some sloppy mistakes from the African World Cup debutant and Hanane Aït El Haj inadvertently turned the ball into her own net just minutes later.
Another own goal, this time from Yasmin Mrabet in the 79th minute, made it 5-0, and Lea Schüller’s late strike capped off a successful evening for Germany.
Despite the result, it was a momentous day for Morocco who made history by becoming the first Arab team to compete in the tournament. Although she didn’t come off the bench, Atlas Lioness defender Nouhaila Benzina could become the first the player to wear a hijab at a World Cup should she feature in this tournament.
The European finalist began its campaign in ferocious fashion, pouncing upon a Moroccan mistake to win possession back high up the pitch early on to allow Kathrin Hendrich to provide an inch-perfect cross for Popp to head home and give Germany an 11th-minute lead.
It was Popp’s 63rd goal for her country as she and her teammates made the perfect start to banishing any lingering demons from losing to England in the Euro 2022 final last year.
Germany looked to have doubled the lead soon after, but Sara Däbritz’s deft chip was deemed to be offside – with replays showing it was the correct decision.
The Germans scored again through a Popp header – the striker using her height and power to force her way past Morocco defenders from a corner.
Although the scoreline suggested Germany had it easy, it was anything but as Morocco threatened on the counterattack with plenty of energy and endeavor.
However, the result looked certain within 23 seconds of the start of the second half. A wayward pass was immediately capitalized on by Germany and, after the ball had cannoned off the post, Bühl powered home her team’s third goal.
Despite the result looking out of their grasp, Moroccan players didn’t appear to lose hope with Anissa Lahmari curling home what looked like a glorious goal, only for it to be ruled out for offside.
Unfortunately for Morocco, the goals didn’t stop for two-time World Cup winner Germany with Aït El Haj unintentionally turning into her own net.
As the game opened up with Morocco – looking to channel the success of its male counterpart at the 2022 World Cup as it reached the semifinals in Qatar – searching for its first ever goal at the tournament, chances began to flow for Germany.
Mrabet’s late own goal from a scramble off a corner – Morocco goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi had punched the ball off her head into the back of the net – kept up the scoring and Schüller’s low strike wrapped up an emphatic victory for the Germans.
It was a strong display by Germany and illustrated why it has been earmarked as one of the favorites to make a deep run in the competition.