Brazil advances at Women’s World Cup

Marta scored twice in a 3-0 win over Norway to lead Brazil into the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup on Sunday.

WOLFSBURG, Germany — Marta scored twice in a 3-0 win over Norway to lead Brazil into the quarter-finals of the women’s World Cup on Sunday.

The five-time FIFA world player of the year scored the first goal in the 22nd minute before putting the game out of reach in the 48th.

“I hope I can keep it up during the next match,” Marta said.

On a wet and windy evening at the sold-out 26,000 capacity stadium, Norway started strong before Marta swung the game in the South Americans’ favour with the opening goal.

She might have finished with three goals if not for a good save from Ingrid Hjelmseth in the 69th minute.

“We simply didn’t have the speed that was required and, yeah, that set us back,” Norway coach Eli Landsem said.

Norway will play Australia — which beat Equatorial Guinea 3-2 in Group D’s earlier game — on Wednesday to decide who advances along with Brazil.

Looking ahead to a likely quarter-final against the United States or Sweden, Brazil coach Kleiton Lima said: “Any of the two teams will be a struggle.”

Marta was clear about her team’s goals.

“We want to get to the final; we would love to be champions,” she said.

Both sides found it difficult to create chances, with the slippery surface making the wet ball hard to control and Norway’s pressing game not allowing Brazil any time to settle early on.

With strong challenges coming from both sides, the Brazilians made a number of uncharacteristic errors. Ester was unable to control a long pass from Marta that bounced over her head out of play.

Norway’s best chances of the first half were from Madeleine Giske in the 18th minute, when the 23-year-old’s first shot was blocked by Aline’s face and her next was straight at Brazil goalkeeper Andreia.

A chorus of boos greeted Marta’s opening goal, but referee Kari Seitz saw nothing wrong with her challenge when Nora Holstad Berge fell to the ground as the two jostled for the ball.

“I don’t think it was a foul. I think it was a very fast play,” Marta said. “We had to use our bodies, me and my opponent. … I think she stumbled (but) I would have to see it again.”

The Brazilian carried on and eluded the challenge of Maren Mjelde with a series of stepovers before shooting low to the right of Hjelmseth.

Norway — the better team up to then — appeared deflated, and Marta almost scored directly from a corner kick six minutes later.

There were no complaints about Brazil’s second goal immediately after halftime. Marta ran at four defenders before spotting Rosana’s run and playing the perfect ball for her teammate’s second goal of the tournament.

Cristiane capitalized on a bad mistake by Mjelde to help create Marta’s second goal two minutes later. Once the player of the game had the ball, she simply picked her spot past Hjelmseth.

“Our team is honoured to be able to count on Marta,” Lima said. “Thank God, Marta is Brazilian. Thank God, Marta is part of our squad.”