Star forward Marta inspired Brazil to a 3-0 victory over Norway to reach the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup, while Australia stayed in the hunt with a 3-2 win over Equatorial Guinea on Sunday.
“Thank god Marta is Brazilian. Thank god she is part of our squad,” said coach Kleiton Lima as the five-time world player of the year scored two goals and set up Rosana for a third.
“She is down to earth and humble, and yet she is a genius,” said Lima of the 25-year-old who demonstrated her famed fancy footwork which had been lacking during their opening 1-0 win over Australia.
Brazil have six points from two games to head the group over 1995 winners Norway and Australia, who are both on three points, meeting in the final group match with the winner joining the South Americans in the last eight.
Brazil join France and Germany, who have already reached the knock-out stage from Group A, with Japan going through in Group B and the US and Sweden advancing in Group C with one game to play.
The South Americans need just a point from their final outing against Equatorial Guinea tomorrow to guarantee top spot, which will decide whether they will play the US or Sweden.
Marta, the top player during the 2007 World Cup in China with seven goals on Brazil’s road to the final, finally got to give a demonstration of her skills despite a pitch made slippery by constant drizzle.
She broke through after 22 minutes when she outwitted Sweden defender Maren Mjelde and the game was over within minutes of the restart after Marta raced down the right flank, fed the ball to Rosana and two minutes later slipped the ball past Ingrid Hjelmseth.
Earlier, Australia kept their dream alive with goals from Leena Khamis, Emily van Egmond and Lisa De Vanna, with the Africans getting two back thanks to captain Anonman in either half.
“I’m pleased with the win — it means we’re still in the competition,” Australia coach Tom Sermanni said. “It was a game of contrasts. We played some excellent football and created great chances, and at other times we made some very poor mistakes which could take five years off my life expectancy. Hopefully, we’re in a position to decide our own destiny.”
Sydney forward Khamis opened for the Matildas after eight minutes, but there was some controversy in the 16th minute when Khamis hit the post and defender Bruna caught the ball, believing a free-kick had been awarded, dropped it and played on. The incident was not seen by Hungarian referee Gyoengyi Gaal, who later apologized through FIFA for missing the obvious hand-ball.
Anonman equalized after 21 minutes, but 11th-ranked Australia came out battling after the break. Van Egmond, 17, got her first international goal three minutes later, before substitute De Vanna got a third on 51 minutes. Anonman pulled one back for the African side after 83 minutes.
Yesterday was a rest day at the competition, with the group stages concluding today and tomorrow.
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