THE DAY REPLAYED: The second matchday at the FIFA Women's World Championship Russia 2006 produced goals by the hatful as the four matches in Moscow on Friday afternoon saw the ball bulge the rigging on 16 occasions, six of those in Mexico's 4-2 triumph against Switzerland.
However, the main talking point of the day was provided by Korea DPR's stunning 2-0 defeat of holders and newly-crowned UEFA European U-19 champions Germany at the Dynamo stadium in the Russian capital. In the day's other matches, the USA were forced to work hard for a narrow 2-1 success against underdogs DR Congo, while France swept aside the challenge posed by Argentina.
The two North American representatives appeared in the day's opening two matches. The USA, widely expected to prove far too powerful for the Congolese, found their opponents brimming with confidence and exuberance. So much so, in fact, that the Africans could be heard singing the dressing room before dancing and chanting their way through the half-hour warm-up on the pitch prior to kick-off. The players then gathered in the centre-circle, forming a ring around their keeper and kneeling to pray with hands outstretched towards the heavens.
That memorable scene appeared to unnerve the US girls as the Africans applied the early pressure in the Moscow heat, but the prayers and songs ultimately came to nothing as the USA increasingly lived up to their billing as overwhelming favourites and began to exploit their opponents' gathering fatigue. Goals from Kelley O'Hara and Amy Rodriguez finally settled the issue in the USA's favour.
The Americans' southern neighbours Mexico also collected three points from their first match with a 4-2 triumph against Switzerland. Furthermore, the crowd at the Dynamo stadium witnessed history being made when Charlyn Corral became the prestigious tournament's youngest-ever scorer at the tender age of 14 years and 11 months.
Nor was the youthful Mexican's achievement in any sense a fluke, as the pacy striker later doubled her personal tally to make the score 3-1 and settle the destination of the points.
An honourable mention should also go to Vanessa Buerki, Switzerland's sole overseas-based player. The Bayern Munich striker netted a well-taken brace, but coach Claudio Taddei was hugely disappointed with his side's first-half display. "We looked as though we'd come here as tourists," he said bluntly.
'We were lucky to lose 2-0'
Goals, records and upsets ensured the fans who attended the second day's games in person were richly rewarded for their efforts - and the highlights were equally distributed between both venues in Moscow.
The crowd at the Torpedo stadium in the evening were treated to a five-goal display by the classy French, defeated finalists at the U-19 European championship in Switzerland. Argentina were never really in with a chance as the ball flashed past keeper Elisabeth Minnig five times, Marie-Laure Delie joining the brace club with goals after 28 and 65 minutes to help seal a dream start for the French.
By stark contrast, the Germans suffered a nightmare 2-0 defeat against Korea DPR, a result which cannot rate as anything less than a debacle for the reigning world and European champions and which casts serious doubt on their chances of holding on to the trophy.
Coach Maren Meinert had warned her side to expect a tough test, but the German camp either didn't heed the warning - or were simply unable to compete. The Asians were excellent value for their victory, secured courtesy of goals either side of half-time from Jong Pok Hui and Jo Yun Mi, and will now justifiably nurture hopes of rising above their customary role as tournament dark horses.
Meinert paid a warm and magnanimous tribute to the Koreans afterwards: "I would actually say we were lucky to lose 2-0. It's hard to say that, but it's true. We came up against a very good opponent today."