World champs open France 2019 charge in style

  • USA begin France 2019 qualifying with emphatic win

  • Panama impress in other Group A match

  • Top three CONCACAF nations qualify for France 2019

Reigning FIFA Women’s World Cup™ champions USA opened their France 2019 qualifying campaign with a statement of intent by routing Mexico 6-0 as the CONCACAF Women’s Championship kicked-off on Thursday.

Doubles from Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan helped the Stars and Stripes put one hand on a semi-final ticket in the eight-nation tournament.

Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath also got on the scoresheet amid a five-goal second-half onslaught.

USA made a perfect start as Rapinoe tapped in the third minute, but Mexico displayed resilience in Cary, North Carolina before capitulating after the break.

The other Group A match saw Panama make a dream start following a 12-year absence from the tournament.

Panama, who qualified via the Central American zone in August, secured a strong 3-0 win over a Trinidad and Tobago side that only narrowly failed to qualify for Canada 2015.

Marta Cox swept home an early goal before Kenia Rangel and Erika Hernandez made the most of some porous defending to secure victory.

Group B will be in action on Friday opening with Costa Rica against Cuba and Canada facing Jamaica.

The top three teams will qualify for France 2019, while a fourth will meet Argentina next month in an intercontinental play-off.