Thrills, thrashings and a stunning upset
Women’s Olympic Football Tournament gets off to a thrilling start
Sweden stunned USA as Brazil, the Netherlands win big
Australia and Great Britain were also victorious
After a long, five-year wait, the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 finally got under way on Wednesday, with all the competition’s 12 teams in action. The wait was well worth it, with Matchday 1 of the group phase throwing up records and thrills. The day’s big losers were reigning world champions USA, who fell to a 3-0 defeat to Sweden. FIFA.com rounds up all the opening day’s action.
Results Group E Great Britain 2–0 Chile Japan 1–1 Canada Great Britain made a fast start by coasting past Chile. Ellen White put her name in the record books as the first goalscorer of Tokyo 2020 before adding a second for good measure. Christine Sinclair celebrated her 300th cap by putting Canada ahead and seemingly en route for three points, before Mana Iwabuchi snatched a late equaliser for the Japanese. Group F China PR 0–5 Brazil Zambia 3–10 Netherlands Led by the imperious Marta, who helped herself to a brace, Brazil laid down a marker by cruising to victory against luckless China PR, who struck the woodwork four times. There are 100 places between the Netherlands and Zambia on the FIFA/Coca-Cola Women’s World Ranking (4th to 104th), and the gulf showed as the European champions overpowered the Africans, despite Barbra Banda’s heroic hat-trick. Group G Sweden 3–0 USA Australia 2–1 New Zealand After knocking USA out in the last eight at Rio 2016, Sweden tripped up the world champions again. Goal machine Stina Blackstenius was on target twice for the Blågult’s as they outclassed the Stars and Stripes with some enterprising attacking football. In the all-Antipodean clash, Australia edged out neighbours New Zealand thanks to goals from Tameka Yallop and Sam Kerr. Gabi Rennie pulled a stoppage-time goal back for the Football Ferns.
Memorable moments Matches with meaning The games taking place at the Miyagi Stadium are more than just football matches to the people who live in this northern part of the island of Honshu, which suffered so much at the hands of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Having staged matches at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, the stadium made a very welcome return to the international arena on Wednesday, hosting victories for Brazil and Netherlands. No stopping Brazil’s eternal duo Formiga extended some of her own records, playing the opening 73 minutes of Brazil’s meeting with China PR. Team-mate Marta set a landmark of her own by becoming the first player, male or female, to score at five consecutive Olympic Games. The queen of Brazilian football already had two goals to her name when she graciously stepped aside to let Andressa Alves, a late addition to the Brazil squad, take a second-half penalty. “She’s a very good penalty taker,” explained Marta. “I felt she really wanted it after everything she’s been through. I’m delighted for her.”
USA back down to Earth with a bump With Stina Blackstenius in inspired form, Sweden dealt the Americans their first defeat under Vlatko Andonovski. The coach, who took over from Jill Ellis after USA’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ triumph, had gone unbeaten in two years and 23 previous matches. Tears for luckless Labbe Canada’s Stephanie Labbe has had to wait many years for the opportunity to represent her country at a major competition as their first-choice goalkeeper. Things did not go the 34-year-old’s way against Japan, however. After picking up an injury in giving away a penalty, she stayed on the pitch to save it before reluctantly and tearfully making way for team-mate Kailen Sheridan. Matchday 2 fixtures Chile-Canada Sapporo Dome, 16:30 (local time) China PR-Zambia Miyagi Stadium, 17:00 (local time) Sweden-Australia Saitama Stadium, 17:30 (local time) Japan-Great Britain Sapporo Dome, 19:30 (local time) Netherlands-Brazil Miyagi Stadium, 20:00 (local time) New Zealand-USA Saitama Stadium, 20:30 (local time)