Rio de Janeiro - Hosts Brazil and world champions the United
States made winning starts in the Olympics women's football tournament on
Wednesday although the competition met with a lukewarm response from fans.
Brazil comfortably saw off the challenge of China 3-0 at the
Olympic stadium in Rio thanks to goals from Monica, Andressa Alves and
The United States began their quest for a fifth Olympic gold
in six Games with a 2-0 win over New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.
World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd opened the scoring
before Alex Morgan added a second.
However, the opening day of action saw vast swathes of empty
seats across Brazil with six cities that hosted the 2014 World Cup being used
for both women's and men's Olympic tournaments.
The first match of the Games saw Sweden beat South Africa
1-0 in front of an almost empty 60,000-seater Olympic stadium in Rio.
A healthier crowd enjoyed Brazil's win with expectations
high that five-time World Player of the Year Marta can inspire the hosts to go
one better than the silver medals they won at the 2004 and 2008 Games and end
the USA's run of three straight golds.
Also read: Pope urges Rio athletes to 'fight the good fight'
The 30-year-old, playing in her fourth Olympics, showed
flashes of brilliance, even prompting the crowd to chant she was better than
Brazilian football's golden boy Neymar.
"Scoring three times against a team like China, with
all the pressure we had, I think it's super-perfect," said Marta.
Brazil's opener came in bizarre fashion when Monica's tame
header trickled past a sea of Chinese defenders and Zhao into the bottom
Marta then showed her class by creating the second on the
hour mark as she skipped down the right before picking out Andressa Alves for a
Only a stunning save from Zhao prevented Marta sealing the
win in style after a fine solo run and shot that was arrowing towards the
Marta was then replaced to a rousing reception before
Cristiane nipped in ahead of Zhao to head home the third.
- Lloyd leads USA -
A year on from scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup final,
Lloyd was again America's star in a 2-0 win over New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.
Lloyd's looping header from Tobin Heath's cross after just
nine minutes got the USA off to a flyer.
And they were even quicker out the blocks in the second
period as Morgan's low shot sneaked in at the near post inside a minute after
Next up for the USA is a blockbuster clash with France, who
impressively dispatched Colombia 4-0.
An early Carolina Arias own goal and further strikes from
Eugenie Le Sommer and Camille Abily gave France a commanding half time lead.
Amel Majri added a fourth with a stunning free-kick minutes
Two-time world champions Germany thrashed Zimbabwe 6-1 on
their debut in a major tournament to top Group F.
Melanie Behringer scored twice with Sara Dabritz, Alexandra
Popp, Melanie Leupolz and a Eunice Chibanda own goal completing the scoring for
Canada set two Olympic records in beating Australia 2-0 in a
battle between two quarter-finalists from last year's World Cup.
Janine Beckie gave the Canadians an incredible start with
the fastest goal in women's Olympic history after just 19 seconds.
However, teammate Shelina Zadorsky also set an unwanted
record with the fastest red card after just 19 minutes.
Canada's veteran captain Christine Sinclair made it 2-0 with
her 162nd international goal from fully 40 yards after rounding Aussie 'keeper
Sweden's Nilla Fischer scored the first goal of the
tournament when she bundled home the winner 14 minutes from time in a scrappy
1-0 win over South Africa.
"It is a great feeling to have a big crowd, but today
for us it was only about football, winning 1-0, and moving forward," said
Sweden coach Pia Sundhage in response to the paltry attendance.
"We didn't play the way we should have and we didn't
play well but I am very satisfied with the result."
Sweden are Brazil's next opponents with all 12
sides in action once more on Saturday.
For the latest on
national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and
like our Facebook page.