Football

Brazil off to a flyer, thanks to hat-trick heroine Cristiane

Brazil footballer Cristiane Rozeira scored a hat-trick as the former finalists sealed a 3-0 victory over Women's World Cup debutantes Jamaica yesterday to kick off their campaign in style.

Victory at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble meant Vadao's side maintained their perfect record in World Cup openers and also snapped a run of nine straight defeats in the lead-up to the tournament since a 2-1 win over Japan last July.

Cristiane, starting in place of fellow forward Marta who was ruled out of the game with a thigh problem, gave Brazil the lead in the 15th minute by meeting Barcelona midfielder Andressa Alves' cross from the left with a header past Sydney Schneider.

The South Americans continued to create chances and could have doubled their lead after earning a penalty for handball by Jamaica defender Allyson Swaby, but Schneider saved Andressa's tame effort on goal seven minutes before the break.

Cristiane tucked in her second goal from a tight angle following the restart as Andressa provided the assist again, before the 34-year-old completed her hat-trick with a powerful free-kick that rattled the underside of the crossbar before crossing the line in the 64th minute.

Brazil, who are aiming to surpass their best-ever finish in 2007 when they were beaten by Germany in the title clash, take on Australia in Montpellier in their next Group C contest on Thursday.

Jamaica's next match is against Italy, who clinched a last-gasp 2-1 win over Australia earlier yesterday.

DRAMATIC RETURN

Italy's Barbara Bonansea ensured a dramatic return to the showpiece tournament after a 20-year absence, with a stoppage-time winner that gave her team a win over tournament dark horses Australia.

The Juventus forward popped up at the back post to head home the winner, having already levelled for her team.

The Australians, tipped by many to have a big impact in France, had taken a first-half lead through hotshot Samantha Kerr. The win puts Italy in a great position to qualify from Group C.

"It's incredible, and scoring with my head as well, which never happens with me," said Bonansea.

- REUTERS, AFP

Football