Superstar Marta fires Brazil into last eight

Brazil's Marta (second left) dances with teammates as she celebrates scoring her side's third goal during the group D match against Norway at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Wolfsburg, Germany, on Sunday. (AP)

Star forward Marta claimed a brace of goals as Brazil beat Group D rivals Norway 3-0 in Wolfsburg, Germany on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup.

The five-time world player of the year showed she had regained the sparkling form which she had lacked during their opening 1-0 win over Australia, scoring after 22 and 48 minutes.

The New York Flash player also set up midfielder Rosana for her second goal in as many matches when she found the net after 46 minutes.

“Our quarter-final rivals, Sweden or the United States, will have a lot of problems even if they’re strong teams because we’re ready and we’ve come here to be world champions,” warned Marta of the Brazilians who have never won a world title and were twice Olympic runners-up.

“We’re happy to have qualified (for the final eight) it’s a reward for our work and will settle us down and motivate us for the coming matches.”

Brazil have a maximum six points from two games to head the group with 1995 winners Norway now facing Australia in the final group match with the winner joining Brazil in the last eight.

Australia earlier beat Equatorial Guinea 3-2 in Bochum.

The South Americans need just a point from their final outing against Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday to guarantee top spot.

Marta, the top player during the 2007 edition of the tournament in China where she scored seven goals on Brazil’s road to the final, finally got to give a demonstration of her skills after being held back by the Australian defence.

The first half however was not easy for the Brazilians as the Norwegians controlled played and had most of the early chances on a pitch made slippery by constant drizzle throughout the match.

Norway had strong local support from the crowd as they lined out with Wolfsburg striker Leni Larsen Kaurin.

The first shot at goal came from Norwegian defender Trine Ronning after five minutes, with striker Madeleine Giske also missing a shot after 18 minutes as her effort was held by Andreia.

But Marta broke through after a defending error by Nora Holstad Berge allowed the Brazilian to break through and head for goal, using her fancy footwork stills to outwit Maren Mjelde and fire into the net.

Rosana had a chance just before the half-time whistle but goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth pushed over the bar.

But the game was over as a contest within minutes of the restart as Marta raced down the right flank, feeding the ball to Rosana.

Two minutes later Marta slipped the ball past Hjelmseth after Cristiane’s initial shot was blocked.

Marta, 25, looked set for a hat-trick midway through the second half but hesitated allowing Hjelmseth to save.

Norway almost got one back late in the game as Cecilie Pedersen headed a corner across goal, and Madeleine Giske pushed her shot onto the top of the net. Substitute Elise Thorsnes also had a late shot deflected.

 

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