THE DAY REPLAYED – Not everyone was able to revel in the festive atmosphere as the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup got underway in Papua New Guinea on Sunday. The host nation had long been looking forward to the big kick-off, but, after a spectacular Opening Ceremony, their supporters watched as Brazil spoiled the party in a crushing 9-0 defeat of the home side.
There was disappointment too for Sweden as they had to cope with one-way traffic against Korea DPR in the other Group A match. The European champions had no answer to their opponents' pressing and intensity, and the runners-up in the most recent Asian championship ran out comfortable 2-0 victors thanks to a goal in each half.
In Group B, meanwhile, Spain made light work of a fragile Canada side, who conceded early on before being meticulously taken apart in a 5-0 triumph for La Rojita. As for Japan, they justified their billing as genuine title contenders by inflicting a heavy 6-0 defeat on Nigeria.
*Sweden 0-2 Korea DPR
Papua New Guinea 0-9 Brazil
*Spain 5-0 Canada
Japan 6-0 Nigeria
Goal of the dayNo fewer than 22 goals found the back of the net on Sunday, and the pick of the bunch bore the imprint of one of the world's most gifted strikers: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With his Swedish compatriots struggling in their opening match, it was Spain's Lucia Garcia who took up the Manchester United marksman's baton, the Athletic Bilbao forward leaping into the air to beat Canada's goalkeeper to a lofted ball and putting her side 2-0 up with an exquisite flick of the outside of her boot.
Memorable moments*Homage to a legend*: One very special guest was absent from the executive box at the Sir John Guise Stadium as the hosts began their historic campaign. A pioneer of women's football in Papua New Guinea, Catherine Davani would surely have savoured this landmark day, but sadly succumbed to illness a week before the start of the tournament. Memories of her contribution to the sport remain strong, however, Davani having helped her homeland clinch their maiden berth at the Pacific Games in 2003, while two of her sons also went on to become senior internationals. After hanging up her boots, she continued to bring down barriers by becoming Papua New Guinea's first ever female judge, and she was commemorated with a minute's silence before kick-off in the opening match as the 22 players stood on the centre circle.
Japan turn heads: No win was more impressive on the first day of action than Japan's 6-0 defeat of 2010 and 2014 finalists Nigeria. Beyond the result itself, the Asian hopefuls caught the eye with the sheer quality of their mobile style of play, which brought to mind the dynamic team that triumphed at the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Costa Rica 2014. With good reason too, as several key members from that side are now defending Japan's colours in Papua New Guinea – including the coach, Asako Takakura, who also now holds the reins of Japan's senior women's team.
Fan Zone makes its mark: After their punishing loss to Brazil, the hosts were at least able to console themselves with the success of the Fan Zone in Port Moresby, close to three of the four tournament stadiums. The mini-pitch proved a particularly big hit, with games taking place all day long despite the soaring temperatures, while plenty of supporters came along to watch games and share in the competition's festive ambience.
87 –The number of seconds it took for Maria Caldentey to open the scoring against Canada. The Spain forward has already laid down a serious contender for the quickest goal at Papua New Guinea 2016, though she fell a long way short of the overall competition record – a staggering 14 seconds, set by Nigeria's Courtney Dike against Korea Republic at Canada 2014.
"I'm happy with the result, even if we need to bear in mind that the scoreline was higher than normal and that we need to keep on working. Japan are an almost unbeatable side, but we will try to compete with them. If we win, it would be a fantastic reward for all the players' work."
Pedro Lopez, Spain coach
Next Matchday*Group C
*France-USA, 16.00 (PNG Football Stadium)
Ghana-New Zealand, 19.00 (PNG Football Stadium)
*Germany-Venezuela, 16.00 (National Football Stadium)
Mexico-Korea Republic, 19.00 (National Football Stadium)
(All times local)