Goals continued to be difficult to come by at the Women’s World Cup in Germany, and Wednesday was the leanest day yet.
Brazil, with five-time world player of the year Marta leading its attack, managed to score only once in a 1-0 victory over Australia in Moenchengladbach. Earlier, former world champion Norway struggled to accomplish even that much in a 1-0 win over Equatorial Guinea in Augsburg.
So far, in eight World Cup matches involving each of the 16 teams in the tournament, only 14 goals have been scored, an average of 0.875 per game.
Five teams have been shut out heading into the second round of group-play matches beginning Thursday.
More was expected from the Brazilians, who, along with host Germany and the U.S., are the favorites to win the World Cup. But the offense has yet to click, to the disappointment of the 27,258 who were at the Borussia Park Stadium to see some flair and some goals in the Brazil-Australia match.
What they got was an evenly played game in which veteran defender Rosana’s goal in the 54th minute provided the difference between the teams.
“Our passing is where we made most of our mistakes,” Brazil Coach Kleiton Lima said. “We couldn’t keep hold of the ball. Luckily, we got the goal in a very demanding and even game and that’s put us at ease.”
Said Australia Coach Tom Sermani: “I’m a little disappointed because we had our opportunities and didn’t take them.”
Meanwhile, 1995 World Cup winner Norway was given a tremendous scare in front of 12,928 at the Augsburg Arena, where unheralded Equatorial Guinea, making its World Cup debut, held the former champions scoreless for almost 84 minutes.
Then, when hope was running out after three Norwegian shots had clanged off one post or another, Norway finally broke through. A goal by midfielder Emilie Haavi six minutes before the final whistle earned the Scandinavian team a nervy victory.
Haavi, who had been one of the players to hit a post earlier on, side-footed a cross from Leni Larsen Kaurin into the net to the despair of the African team.
Norway and Brazil lead Group D with three points.
“We wasted opportunities during the match, but we also had some bad luck,” Norway Coach Eli Landsem said.
Equatorial Guinea outshot Norway, 20-18, and had double the number of shots on target, 8-4, but could not capitalize.
“It was a balanced game with many opportunities. It’s tough when shots don’t go in; we could have had four goals,” Equatorial Guinea Coach Marcelo Frigerio said.
Jones reported from Ross-on-Wye, England.