Germany, Brazil and Italy launch World Cup campaigns with victories

Ary Borges and Alexandra Popp were the leading predators on Monday as Brazil and Germany launched their World Cup campaigns with convincing wins over Panama and Morocco respectively.

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Borges scored a hat trick in Brazil’s 4-0 breeze at the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. The 23-year-old headed in her first after 19 minutes and tapped in her second after the Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey had saved her header.

Just after half-time, Borges’ stylish back heel foxed the Panama defence and Beatriz Zaneratto Joao swept the ball high into the net. Borges grabbed her third – also with a header – and Brazil’s fourth 20 minutes from time.

“We’re obviously happy,” Brazil coach Pia Sundhage told British broadcaster ITV.

“The first game is always difficult but we scored four goals and sometimes played quite well.”

The victory took Brazil to the top of Group F and they will seal their place in the last-16 knockout stages should they beat France on Saturday in Brisbane.

While Borges claimed the first hat trick of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, Germany racked up the biggest win of the nascent competition with a 6-0 destruction of Morocco in Group H.

Germany opened the scoring at the Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne in the 11th minute when skipper Alexandra Popp powered home Kathrin Hendrich’s cross from the right.

Popp bagged her brace for the Euro 2022 finalists just before the pause. 

Klara Buehl swung a corner in the from the left and the 32-year-old bundled the ball past the Morocco goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi with a combination of her head and left shoulder.

Just after the break, Buehl effectively ended the contest when she rifled home the loose ball after Lina Magull’s shot had hit the woodwork.

From there it was damage limitation for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations finalists. Hanane Ait El Haj and Yasmine Mrabet put through their own net before Lea Schuller added the gloss in the 89th minute.

“We’re super happy we were able to play like this in our opening match,” said Popp. “It’s always difficult because you don’t really know where you stand or how your opponent will play. But we were able to impose our game.”

In Group G, Italy beat Argentina 1-0. Cristiana Girelli scored in the closing stages for Milena Bertolini’s side who join Sweden on three points following their opening day win over the African champions South Africa.

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