Brazil coasts past China to win women’s soccer opener

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While much has been made about the pressure on the Brazilian men to win the country’s first gold medal in soccer, the women are also searching for their breakthrough in that regard. Wednesday afternoon Brazil opened its account in Rio with an impressive 3-0 win over China at the Olympic Stadium, with Monica’s goal in the 36th minute standing as the match winner.

Monica’s header from just inside of the penalty spot found its way through three Chinese defenders, with keeper Zhao Lina being caught well off her line. After being caught on their heels to start the match China rebounded well late in the first half, mounting a challenge on the Brazilian goal and that carried over into the early stages of the second half. However they were unable to get one past Brazil keeper Barbara, and in the 59th minute the hosts extended their lead to 2-0.

Getting onto a ball lofted over China’s back line, Marta found Andressa Alves with a cross that the latter put into the goal on her first touch. Andressa Alves has been quite productive for Brazil over the last year, with her goal Wednesday being the ninth she’s scored at the international level since the beginning of 2015.

Brazil tacked on an third goal just before second half stoppage time, as Cristiane headed in a free kick to provide the final margin. Already the holder of the record for most goals scored in Olympic competition by a female, Cristiane is now tied with Denmark’s Sophus Nielsen (1908, 1912 Summer Olympics) for the most goals scored by an Olympic soccer player male or female.

Brazil (1-0-0; 3 points) takes on Sweden, which beat South Africa 1-0 in the first game of the day, 9:00 p.m. Saturday night in their second group match. China (0-0-1; 0 points) will look to rebound from their loss with a win over South Africa Saturday, with that match scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.