Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Brazil romp past Kiwis, Matildas get first win

AFP , WUHAN, CHINA

Australia's Sarah Walsh, left, rounds Ghana goalkeeper Memanatu Sulemana in Hangzhou, China, yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

South American powerhouse Brazil lashed soccer minnows New Zealand 5-0 in Wuhan yesterday in a resounding display of skills that proved too much for the hapless Kiwis.

Under grey skies at the Wuhan Sports Center Stadium, Daniela Alves, Cristiane, Marta and Renata Costa all found the back of the net to outgun the inexperienced New Zealenders.

The Brazilians put on a virtuoso show and the score could have been much higher, serving warning to their Group D rivals China and Denmark that the 1999 World Cup third place finishers are back after an early exit four years ago.

"All of our goals today were magnificent; we had not only long shots, but good movement. All of our players played very well," Brazil coach Jorge Barcelos said.

Midfielder Daniela, 23, got things going in the 10th minute with a devastating strike from 30m that whistled over the outstretched arms of Kiwi goalkeeper Jenny Bindon.

Cristiane, whose relentless pace caused all sorts of problems for the New Zealand defense, made it 2-0 in the 54th minute, slotting her strike into the right-hand corner from 20m.

Nine mintues later another rocket by the 22-year-old left-footer banged dangerously off the crossbar.

Daniela, who made her international debut at the tender age of 15, made no mistake minutes later, flicking the ball to 2006 player of the year Marta who weaved up the left before blasting a drive into the net.

Marta added another in the dying minutes to bring her international goal tally to an astonishing 42 in 40 games. Midfielder Renata also scored.

It was the first time the teams had met in the World Cup, and it was a flamboyant demonstration of what makes classy Brazil, currently ranked 8th in the world, real contenders for this year's title.

From the opening moments Brazil's Cristiane, Daniela as well as Marta looked dangerous, cracking open New Zealend's defense with razor-sharp passing, slicing runs and an onslaught of shots on goal.

New Zealand's best chance came when veteran Wendi Henderson, their only player to have taken part in a World Cup in 1991, broke free in the early minutes but failed to make the most of her opportunity.

Brazil next face China, the 1999 runners up who are currently rebuilding. Barcelos warned they will be no pushover.

"China is a very tough team and we will need to prepare well for that match," he said.

Australia scored their first World Cup win in 10 attempts in Hangzhou yesterday, ending a 12-year drought with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Ghana.

Striker Sarah Walsh opened the scoring after 15 minutes, which gave the Matildas a 1-0 edge in an evenly balanced first half.

After the break superior pace and fitness paid off with two goals from second-half substitute Lisa De Vanna (57 and 81) and another from Heather Garriock in the 69th minute.

Ghana's exciting 18-year-old striker Anita Amankwa fired one back for the Black Queens in the 70th minute.

Ghana had taken points from Australia in 1999 and 2003 but they struggled to subdue the pacy Walsh and it was after two earlier near misses that the 24-year-old broke the deadlock, firing left-footed off the inside of the post.

She then teed up De Vanna to double Australia's lead and the outcome was settled when Heather Garriock headed home the pick of Australia's goals.

The Matildas have played in three World Cups before -- in 1995, 1999 and 2003 -- but have failed to get beyond the group stage, a dismal record that they want to fix.

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