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Women's World Cup roundup

Brazil slips past Australia

Equatorial Guinea defeated by Norway

Associated Press / June 30, 2011

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Rosana’s second-half strike lifted Brazil to a 1-0 victory over Australia in its opening match at the women’s World Cup yesterday in Moechengladbach, Germany.

The breakthrough in a hard-fought Group D match came in the 54th minute, when Cristiane capitalized on some scrappy Australian defending to head the ball to the 28-year-old Rosana, who took one touch past a defender before unleashing her shot past the helpless Melissa Barbieri.

“We have to improve when you play a World Cup,’’ Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said. “Despite the fact players are very experienced, they might be nervous, they might be anxious in the first game, but that’s now out of the way.’’

Lisa De Vanna might have scored an equalizer but fired over in the 87th minute with only the goalkeeper to beat, and Australia also went close from a corner at the very end.

Brazil signaled its intent to attack when it lined up with three in defense, but Australia coped well with the likes of Cristiane and five-time FIFA player of the year Marta.

Marta started brightly, skipping past a number of challenges before putting in a cross in the third minute, and Servet Uzunlar’s interception was crucial a minute later with the 25-year-old Brazilian through on goal.

“I was really pleased with the way we defended against Marta,’’ Australia’s Scottish coach Tom Sermanni said. “I don’t know if she got a shot on goal today.’’

Rosana was unlucky to see her header land on the roof of the net in the ninth minute, after a flowing move instigated by Marta’s delightful chip forward.

The Australians showed they were not intimidated, however, with De Vanna displaying trickery on the left wing, and Elise Kellond-Knight playing the ball through the legs of a Brazilian before clearing from defense.

They might have scored from a free kick that caused panic in the Brazilian defense before Fabiana finally managed to clear in the 19th, while Andreia was forced to react to stop a good shot from Kyah Simon.

Norway 1, Equatorial Guinea 0 — Emilie Haavi finally broke down Equatorial Guinea’s defense in the 84th minute and Norway escaped with a surprisingly close win in its opening game in Augsburg, Germany.

The heavily favored Norwegians had hit the post three times and looked like they were going to have to settle for a 0-0 draw before substitute Leni Larsen Kaurin broke free on the right and passed to Haavi low in an open center.

Captain Anonman had several clear chances for Equatorial Guinea, a nation of 670,000 in West Africa with a FIFA ranking of 61, the lowest in the tournament.

The game could have turned as early as the second minute, but the first smooth Norway attack ended when a diagonal shot from Haavi struck the inside of the post. Lene Mykjaland also hit the post in the 55th, as did Isabell Herlovsen two minutes later.

Equatorial Guinea could have taken the lead in the 53d when the green-braided Anonman forced a one-on-one with goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth, but put the ball wide. She did likewise in the 72d of an exciting match before 12,928 fans in a half-empty Augsburg Arena.

Norway applied more pressure in the second half, eventually resulting in Haavi’s goal.

Anchored by goalie Miriam and central defender Carolina, Equatorial Guinea showed off fine positioning and skills.