Ary Borges hit the first hat-trick of this Women’s World Cup as Brazil crushed debutants Panama 4-0 in a scintillating opening to their campaign on Monday.
Far tougher challenges lie ahead — they face France next — but this was an impressive start for a Brazil side who have featured at all eight previous Women’s World Cups but never won it.
The stylish victory in Adelaide sent Brazil top of Group F after Jamaica surprisingly held France 0-0 on Sunday.
The 23-year-old attacking midfielder Borges, who plays for Racing Louisville in the United States, was the undoubted star of the show, scoring three and setting up the other.
A constant threat coming in off the right, she pounced twice from close range in the first half to leave Brazil in total control at the break and Panama never looked like getting back in it.
Some of the Panama players and fans were in tears during their national anthem, underlining what it means to them to be at the World Cup for the first time.
But this was a debut they will probably want to forget as Swedish coach Pia Sundhage’s Brazil put on an exhibition of flowing, attacking football.
They racked up five attempts on goal in the opening 10 minutes and the pressure told in the 19th minute when Borges nodded in unmarked at the back post for a simple close-range header.
Six minutes before the break she scored her second. Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey saved her initial downward header but the rebound went right back to Borges and she slammed the ball into the net.
Any hope Panama had of getting back into the match was extinguished only three minutes into the second half and it was the best goal of the tournament so far.
A fluid team move took the ball to the ever-dangerous Borges, who rolled the ball behind her with her studs, allowing Bia Zaneratto to fire into the back of the net.
Borges put the seal on a hugely impressive personal and team performance by nodding in her third — and Brazil’s fourth — 20 minutes from time, the ball flying through the middle of Bailey’s legs.
The 37-year-old forward Marta, arguably the greatest women’s footballer of all time, came off the bench for Brazil in the closing stages but will have to wait a while longer if she is to become the first player to score at six World Cups.
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