Germany underlined their credentials as one of the pre-tournament favourites to win the with a hugely one-sided victory over Morocco, while Brazil put on an attacking masterclass and Italy left it late against Argentina.
One of the early themes of this year’s World Cup has been the struggles of debutants and that continued on Monday, with Morocco and Panama’s defeats making it eight losses in a row without managing to get on the scoresheet.
Germany took the lead early on against Morocco in Melbourne, with goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi getting nowhere near a cross into the box to leave an unmarked Alexandra Popp free to head the ball into a completely empty net.
They doubled their lead shortly before half-time in similar fashion, with Popp attacking a corner and managing to power a thunderous header past Er-Rmichi despite falling to the ground as she did so.
Morocco made the worst possible start to the second half, with some calamitous defending resulting in a goal-mouth scramble which eventually saw Klara Buhl fire home just 21 seconds after the restart during a frantic passage of play which also saw Germany hit the post.
That rather opened the floodgates and more shocking defending saw Morocco fail to clear a hopeful cross into the box before the ball was nudged over her own line by Hanane Ait El Haj.
More disastrous play at the back saw Er-Rmichi punch a cross against the back of her own team-mate, with Yasmin Mrabet credited with the unlucky own goal, before the goalkeeper palmed a shot straight into the path of Lea Schuller who added the finishing touches to the 6-0 victory.
Brazil continued the glut of goals with a totally dominant display against Panama in the final game of Monday’s action as Ary Borges served up a stunning individual performance in a 4-0 win.
The 23-year-old got the scoring underway with a close-range header and nearly netted an identical second just before the break, though this time her initial header was saved before she tucked home the rebound.
It was her involvement in Brazil’s third goal that was truly spectacular though, with a flowing move presenting Borges with the chance to bag her hat-trick from just six yards out; instead, she audaciously backheeled the ball to Bia Zaneratto who finished off the goal-of-the-tournament contender emphatically.
Borges did seal her hat-trick a few moments later, though, diverting another header between the legs of Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey. Brazil legend Marta was introduced late on in what is her sixth World Cup – a new record – but could not get on the scoresheet.
In the day’s early kick-off, meanwhile, Italy and Argentina looked to be heading towards a goalless draw with neither side creating many clear-cut chances in a stop-start match – until, that is, veteran forward Cristiana Girelli was introduced late on.
The 33-year-old, the oldest member of the Italian squad, is her nation’s third highest scorer in history and she took just four minutes to make an impact, powering a looping header into the back of the net in the 87th minute.
Italy probably deserved the win and had edged the contest with two goals ruled out for offside in the first half, while 16-year-old Giulia Dragoni gave an impressive display and was a bright spark in a match that was more about defensive resilience than attacking football.
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