Marta on Tuesday said she was representing women in soccer after becoming the leading scorer in the history of the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups by firing home the penalty that downed Italy and secured Brazil’s place in the last 16 of this year’s tournament in France.
The 33-year-old, widely considered the best player in the history of the women’s game, slammed home from the spot in the 74th minute against Group C winners Italy to secure qualification and take her Women’s World Cup tally to 17 after Debinha was bundled over by Elena Linari.
That puts her one ahead of former Bayern Munich and SS Lazio striker Miroslav Klose in the all-time rankings, and the veteran attacker said that the goal was more than just a personal triumph.
“The feeling is a joyful one, definitely, not only for breaking the record, but for being able to represent women in doing so,” she said. “And for being able to help my team, which is what matters most, qualifying for the next stage of the tournament.”
However, her record-breaking spot-kick was not enough to secure second place in the group, as Sam Kerr’s incredible four-goal haul in Australia’s 4-1 hammering of Jamaica saw the Matildas leapfrog Brazil on goals scored as three sides finished on six points.
It means they could face either France or Germany in the next round, a tough test for a team who have at times spluttered in the group stage.
“I think that when you play a big competition like a World Cup, you can’t choose who you play,” Marta said. “We have this thing now, we need to do what we need to do to keep this thing going in the competition and then whoever we have to play we will be prepared.”
Australia are to play Norway in Nice, France, in the next round on Saturday after they made sure of qualification on Monday with a scrappy 2-1 win over eliminated South Korea.
Having lost their opening match with Italy, they looked dead and buried as they headed toward halftime against Brazil two goals down, but clawed back to win 3-2 before comfortably seeing off Jamaica, who finish the group stage with no points to their name, despite Havana Solaun scoring the Reggae Girlz’s first-ever World Cup goal four minutes after the break.
Kerr became the first Australian woman to score a World Cup hat-trick when she tapped home in the 69th minute following two first-half headers, and her fourth was the goal that secured second spot.
Meanwhile, Italy will take on one of the four best third-placed finishers after topping the group ahead of Australia on goal difference, while Brazil have to wait to know their opponent.
“It’s hard to think of such a thing as a ‘good defeat,’ but you could say that we’re happy for qualifying and finishing first in the group,” Italy coach Milena Bertolini said.
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