Stars dazzle as China capsize
© AFP

THE DAY REPLAYED - Marta, Cristiane and Sinclair too. The big stars are beginning to make an impact at the FIFA Women's World Cup and today the two Brazilian whizz kids shone in the spotlight which had been trained earlier in the day on Canada's Christine Sinclair - and on the likes of Abby Wambach and Kelly Smith before.

As a result the South Americans romped to a 4-0 defeat of China, which virtually assures them of a berth in the quarter-finals, while Canada had the same scoreline in their favour as they cruised past Ghana. Elsewhere Denmark won to strengthen the Nordic challenge following Sweden's defeat the previous day, but Norway - hoping to follow suit against Australia - were denied by a second-half equaliser. With both teams now on four points it means Ghana will join Argentina in departing China after their final group game.

Although Brazil had scored five in their opening game it failed to deflect many observers from their vision of a final scenario featuring Germany and USA. The fall guys on that occasion, New Zealand, were not reckoned to be among the Group D contenders. More will start to rate the Seleção's chances now after they stunned the home nation in Wuhan and left a huge crowd deflated though also appreciative of the scintillating attacking football on view.

When Song Xiaoli beat Andreia only to see her shot come back off the bar in the 16th minute there was no hint of the dominance the Brazilians were going to exert on proceedings. But in a devastating seven-minute spell either side of half-time China came apart badly. It began when the creative midfielder Formiga launched a long ball and Marta's speed took her beyond Wenxia Han's despairing lunge. The coolest of finishes did the rest. Marta then turned provider to lay on two goals for Cristiane in the space of two minutes and at 3-0 she struck the post. Her second goal arrived in the 70th minute and was helped on its way into the net via a deflection.

It would now need a remarkable combination of results - a heavy win for Denmark in Brazil's final group game and a decisive win for China over the Kiwis - to deny the Auriverde a place in the tournament's last eight.

Denmark are second in Group D after two goals from free-kicks ended the stout resistance of New Zealand in Wuhan. The Danes counted themselves unlucky to lose to China late on but began to make amends as Katrine Pedersen curled home a sublime opener just past the hour . That was followed five minutes later when Pedersen's superb cross - an impressive feature of the Danes' game all afternoon - Cathrine Paaske Sorensen headed the second.

The Ferns, a largely youthful group mixed with one or two experienced heads, will learn a lot from their time in South-East Asia. Their day will come and big hopes rest on the shoulders of 16-year-old Annalie Longo, who was summoned off the bench with three minutes remaining.

In Group C, Australia and Norway lead the way with four points, the teams sharing the points in Hangzhou when Lisa De Vanna struck a stunning late equaliser having been summoned off the substitute's bench at the interval. Australia coach Tom Sermanni made no fewer than six changes to the side that put four goals past Ghana on Wednesday and it looked a dubious policy when Ragnhild Gulbrandsen swept home her second goal in as many matches. Before her equaliser De Vanna had hit the post, just after Lene Mykjaland had done the same at the other end.

Sinclair's first goal for Canada against Ghana came when she looped a header over Memunatu Sulemana at the far post. It came from a Kara Lang cross and the same player also fashioned her second. In between Sinclair was only denied another goal by a brilliant save. It was oh-so comfortable in the end but it might have been different had Anita Amankwa not missed horribly before half-time when she stuck the crossbar from a distance of just two yards.