WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - JULY 03: Marta of Brazil celebrates after she scores her team's openin goal during the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011 Group D match between Brazil and Norway at Wolfsburg Arena on July 3, 2011 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

FIFA Women's World Cup 2011: Australia Vs. Equatorial Guinea, Brazil Vs. Norway, Group D

Despite some terrible officiating, Australia and Equatorial Guinea put on a show as the Matildas won a 3-2 thriller. In the late game, Brazil defeated Norway behind a brilliant performance from Marta.

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FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, Brazil Vs. Norway: Marta Leads Brazil To Victory

Besides Marta's one moment of individual brilliance, Brazil did not look good in the first half of their 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup match against Norway. To be fair, Norway didn't look good either, but much more was expected from Brazil than what they showed for the first 135 minutes of the World Cup. To start the second half, Norway and Brazil looked like completely different teams, as Brazil came alive while Norway lost their focus.

Brazil doubled their lead right off of the halftime whistle, thanks to some more brilliance from Marta and a very good finish by Rosana. In the 46th minute, Marta picked up the ball on the left flank and made a brilliant, powerful run through the defense to the edge of the 18 yard box. After baiting four defenders to swarm around her, she laid a ball across the box towards Formica, who dummied the ball to Rosana. The striker netted her second goal of the tournament with a tidy finish to the far post, giving Brazil a 2-0 lead.

Just two minutes later, Brazil would put the game to rest when a terrible giveaway at the back resulted in the ball falling to the feet of Marta, who patiently waited for her opening and snuck a shot into the back of the net after faking out the defense and goalkeeper. After a poor performance in Brazil's first game, Marta was unquestionably brilliant and the woman of the match on Sunday night, scoring two goals and notching an assist to guide her team into the World Cup quarterfinals.

On July 6, Norway and Australia, both sitting on three points, meet for a spot in the quarterfinals. Norway will need to win that game outright, as Australia have the better goal differential.


FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, Brazil Vs. Norway: Marta Goal Has Brazil Up At Halftime

Brazil and Norway aren't playing a particularly pretty game in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, but just like they did in their opening game of the tournament against Australia, Brazil have taken the lead despite not being at their best, thanks to a great piece of individual skill. Rosana was the one who found the back of the net in that game, but in this one it was none other than Marta, the five time FIFA World Player of the Year. Her team should probably thank her persistently, as it was the only way they were ever going to score. 

It's been a very nasty, physical game with both teams delivering some crunching tackles. Brazil are playing much more direct than most watchers would expect to see from them, and their 3-4-3 formation still looks very questionable. However, in the 22nd minute, Marta did what Marta does and beat two defenders before beating Ingrid Hjelmseth and slotting the ball into the back of the net. Brazil have been far from convincing, but that won't matter as long as they can hold on to their 1-0 lead.


FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, Australia Vs. Equatorial Guinea: Matildas Win 3-2 In Wild Match

If you needed a morning wake-up call, the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup match between Equatorial Guinea and Australia might have been a good choice to get your motor running this morning. The two teams played an absolutely thrilling game which some bad refereeing made unnecessarily more tense, but despite some bad mistakes by the official, the right team won in the end. It looked like the Matildas were going to be undone by a bad call early in the match, but they recovered in the second half and recorded a 3-2 win over Equatorial Guinea.

Leena Khamis got Australia off to a great start with an early goal, and it looked as iff they were going to double that lead very early on. Collette McCallum, who had an absolutely outstanding game, hit the post in the 15th minute of the game with a great effort and it appeared that Australia would have some kind of second chance scoring opportunity. However, Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna inexplicably picked up the ball and held it for three seconds, after which the referee inexplicably did not give a penalty kick for handball. 

Equatorial Guinea's superstar Añonma equalized shortly afterwards, inciting fears that Australia had been badly affected by the blown call and that they would not recover. However, it seems as if coach Tom Sermanni must have lit an absolute fire under his team in the locker room at halftime, as they recovered from the setback brilliantly at the start of the second half, as Emily Van Egmond and Lisa De Vanna quickly scored two goals to put their team back ahead by a score of 3-1. Añonma pulled one back, completing her brace, but it wasn't enough for Equatorial Guinea as they fell 3-2. The loss eliminated them from the competition, while Australia won't know much about their status until the late game.


FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, Australia Vs. Equatorial Guinea: Tied At Halftime In Atrocious Refereeing Display

The level of play in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup has been absolutely outstanding, but unfortunately, the actual play on the field will not be what stands out from today's match between Australia and Equatorial Guinea. Instead, referee Gyoengyi Gaal is the story, as she has put together a performance that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. As the American telecast of the game went to halftime, presenter Bob Ley described her missed call of a handball as "a stunning moment of global incompetence." The actual score of the game at halftime is 1-1.

Though the referee has failed to take control of the match for the entire match, letting a great deal of unfair play go without punishment, the game started innocently enough with a well-deserved Australian goal by Leena Khamis, who finished after a sequence of a couple of shots inside of the box for Australia. They looked as if they were going to add to their lead for a bit, but then the game turned on its head.

Not too long after that goal, Collette McCallum hit the post for Australia. There was no whistle from the referee and no flag from the linesperson, but despite that, Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna picked up the ball with her hands and held it for around three seconds before dropping it. It appeared that the referee saw her do this, but decided not to give a penalty kick and a booking in an absolutely jaw-dropping display of incompetence.

Less than ten minutes later, Añonma equalized for Equatorial Guinea. It's hard to argue that she didn't deserve a goal, but had the referee made the correct decision minutes earlier, the game probably would have been much different. Now, if Australia fail to win, they will have a serious gripe with the official.


FIFA Women's World Cup 2011: Australia Vs. Equatorial Guinea, Brazil Vs. Norway, Group D

The standard of play thus far in the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup has been fantastic, but there was a little something missing from the first set of games in Group D. In a group that features Marta, Lisa De Vanna, and a Norway team that is great as the sum of its parts rather than revolving around a star, little excitement was provided. The most interesting player or storyline in the first two games was Añonma, Equatorial Guinea's No. 10. Oh, and this guy. Can the stars please come out?

Australia vs. Equatorial Guinea

Rosana's goal for Brazil was easily the best thing to come out of the Brazil-Australia match on the 29th of June, while the second best thing to come out of that game was probably Lisa De Vanna not punching anyone in the face. Hopefully, for the sake of her team, she can get back to being really good at football, which she avoided doing against Brazil. We can only hope that this match turns into a great duel between De Vanna and Añonma.

Brazil vs. Norway

Will the real Marta please stand up? The five time FIFA World Player Of The Year was neutralized by Australia in her team's first game, definitively proving that she's nothing without Christine Sinclair and Ali Riley. Okay, not really, but it would be nice if she would show the world why she's considered to be easily the best player in the world right now. Norway looked very lackluster against Equatorial Guinea in a 1-0 win, while Brazil's terrible looking backline somehow kept a shutout against Australia. Hopefully, all becomes right with the world on Sunday and both teams score some goals.

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