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Marta magic for Brazil in easy victory over Norway

Brazilian star Marta, front, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of her team’s 3-0 win over Norway.

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Brazilian star Marta, front, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal of her team’s 3-0 win over Norway.

Tuesday's schedule (no games today)
Gm Group When TV Matchup
17 A 2:45 p.m. ESPN France vs. Germany
18 A 2:45 p.m. ESPN2 Canada vs. Nigeria
19 B 12:15 p.m. ESPN England vs. Japan
20 B 12:15 p.m. ESPN2 New Zealand vs. Mexico
United States schedule, Group C
Gm When TV Matchup
22 2:45 p.m. Wednesday ESPN Sweden vs. U.S.


Women's World Cup

Top two in each group advance:

GROUP A

GP W D L GF GA Pts

France 2 2 0 0 5 0 6

Germany 2 2 0 0 3 1 6

Nigeria 2 0 0 2 0 2 0

Canada 2 0 0 2 1 6 0

GROUP B

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Japan 2 2 0 0 6 1 6

England 2 1 1 0 3 2 4

Mexico 2 0 1 1 1 5 1

New Zealand 2 0 0 2 2 4 0

GROUP C

GP W D L GF GA Pts

United States 2 2 0 0 5 0 6

Sweden 2 2 0 0 2 0 6

North Korea 2 0 0 2 0 3 0

Colombia 2 0 0 2 0 4 0

GROUP D

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Brazil 2 2 0 0 4 0 6

Australia 2 1 0 1 3 3 3

Norway 2 1 0 1 1 3 3

Equ. Guinea 2 0 0 2 2 4 0

AUGSBURG, Germany — Marta made the World Cup tournament her own for a day, scoring two goals and assisting on another to lead Brazil into the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over Norway on Sunday.

The biggest star of the women's game brought samba heat to the rain-swept, 55-degree Wolfsburg stadium with stunning moves, speed, vision, finishing and even rough play.

"Thank God, Marta is Brazilian," coach Kleiton Lima said.

Brazil's performance took attention away from a huge refereeing blunder in the other Group D game in Bochum. Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna carried the ball in her hands for a couple of seconds in front of her own goal without being penalized (see 1C). It didn't hurt Australia, which beat the African rookies 3-2.

And thanks to Brazil's margin of victory, Australia leads Norway on goal differential. With the latter two tied for second at three points each, Australia needs only a draw when they meet Wednesday in Leverkusen. Norway, the 1995 World Cup champion, must beat Australia to reach the quarterfinals.

No one seems a match for Brazil in the group, and Marta wants to finally give her nation the biggest cup of all. While the men's team has won five, the women have done no better than second place.

Marta, the five-time FIFA player of the year, opened Sunday's one-woman show by shoving Norwegian defender Nora Holstad Berge in the back.

But the Brazilian star followed with a series of sidesteps that would make even Portugal men's star Cristiano Ronaldo proud. Once another defender was down from the blur of moves, she was unforgiving with a wicked drive inside.

"We had to use our bodies, me and my opponent," she said of the initial challenge. "I think she stumbled. I would have to see it again."

Early in the second half, Marta swerved past four defenders before cherry-picking Rosana to let her drive in the second goal. Marta's second goal capped a stunning day.

For Australia, Leena Khamis, Emily van Egmond and Lisa De Vanna scored to overcome a two-goal day by Anonma — not to mention that officiating gaffe — for Equatorial Guinea.

U.S. seeks final touch

Finishing has been an issue all year for the United States, and it has been more of the same at the World Cup.

Though the Americans have five goals from their first two matches, they easily could have double that. Strikers Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez have been missing — badly — and others are squandering chances, too.

The missed opportunities haven't cost the Americans — yet. But chances are sure to dwindle the deeper they go in the tournament, especially with Group C co-leader Sweden looming Wednesday.

Few defenders can keep pace with Rodriguez, and that speed helps her get plenty of good looks around the goal. But her shots have been just a touch off. Take her rebound of a Wambach miss early in Saturday's 3-0 victory against Colombia. Rodriguez had a straight-on shot from close range, only to put too much power behind it and send it flying over the goal.

"I have the greatest teammates," she said. "Every shot I took, they were like, 'You're going to get the next one; you're going to get the next one.' "

That's Wambach's mind-set, too.

The former Florida star is the third-leading scorer in U.S. history with 117 goals and is second only to Michelle Akers with nine World Cup goals. But she has scored just once this season, and her shortcomings at this tournament have been glaring.

"I could sit here and analyze and reanalyze every shot I took today and why it didn't go in," Wambach said after the Colombia game. "But that would be selfish on my part. It's not about me; it's about the team."

Marta magic for Brazil in easy victory over Norway 07/03/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 3, 2011 8:15pm]

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