There is little doubt which player the average neutral supporter most wants to see at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup™. Marta had her own cheer squads, mostly younger fans, dotted around the Wolfsburg’s Arena Im Allerpark yesterday evening and the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year delivered in kind with two goals, amid a radiant performance in Brazil’s 3-0 victory over Norway.
After a subdued showing against Australia in the tournament opener, the 25-year-old Brazilian returned to her dazzling best, with Norway the unlucky victims. Marta scored her first of the tournament on 22 minutes after latching onto a long ball, before rounding a defender with impressive footwork and finishing comfortably from 12metres. Marta’s second, and Brazil’s third of the night, came three minutes after the break and again a deft left foot was on display as she collected a loose ball in the penalty area, before feinting and then slotted home to end the contest.
Two minutes before that goal Marta had set up team-mate Rosana with arguably her most impressive moment of the night; a searing run followed by some impressive vision in picking out her fellow Brazilian to score. There could even have been a hat-trick as Marta raced clear of the defence midway through the second period, only to hesitate with her shot allowing Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth to make the save.
Marta’s speed was notable in the match on several occasions with Norwegian defenders often left in the wake of the Rio native. “I don’t know if I’m faster than 2007,” when asked had she taken her athleticism to another level since claiming the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Golden Shoe at the FIFA Women’s World Cup four years ago in China. “I hope I can hold my speed in the next games. I just try to give my all and I hope I can keep up my performance.
“I think Brazil played a great match, and we played better today than in the first game. The defensive players did a very important role. They did not let the players from Norway in, and connected with our attackers as fast as possible. Now we are in a more comfortable place for the second stage. The expectation for the Brazilian team and its game is always great.”
The final word goes to Brazil coach Kleiton Lima who was effusive in his praise of his side’s superstar No10. “Thank god Marta is Brazilian,” said a smiling Lima after the match. “Thank god she is part of our squad. She is down to earth and humble and yet she is a genius. Marta is modest off the pitch, is very close to all her team-mates, and she has a good relationship with the younger players.”