The United States began their trophy defence in scintillating style with 13-0 Women’s World Cup thrashing of Thailand in a ruthless demonstration of strength to potential quarter-final opponents and hosts France, who return to action on Wednesday against Norway.
Three-time champions USA scored 10 goals in the second half in Reims on Tuesday as they eclipsed Germany’s 11-0 win over Argentina in 2007 and shattered their own previous tournament best of 7-0.
Alex Morgan starred with five goals, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis netted twice each and Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also got on the scoresheet in an embarrassingly one-sided Group F encounter watched by more than 18,000.
The Americans hit back after at suggestions they could have eased up and saved 34th-ranked Thailand from complete humiliation.
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“This is a world championship so every team that is here has been fantastic to get to this point. To be respectful to opponents is to play hard against opponents,” said USA coach Jill Ellis.
Morgan, who now has 106 goals for her country, matched a record set by her compatriot Michelle Akers by scoring five times in a World Cup game.
“We always want to have any world record and anything we can get over the Germans, we’ll take it,” joked Rapinoe.
Morgan and Rapinoe are among the biggest stars in a squad who have made waves with their much publicised fight for pay equality that saw them file a lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation in March, accusing the organisation of gender discrimination.
“Our players were waiting for this moment and they were really disappointed,” said the Thailand coach, Nuengruethai Sathongwien. “We don’t have any excuse and we accept that they are better.”
If the USA top the group, they could be on a collision course to play Corinne Diacre’s France in the quarter-finals in Paris.
The hosts cruised to a 4-0 win over South Korea in their first outing last Friday and are hoping to build on that when they take on Norway in Nice in Group A on Wednesday evening (1900 GMT) in one of 13 sell-out games, FIFA confirmed, with more than a million tounament tickets sold.
Norway’s Scandinavian neighbours Sweden kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Chile in Rennes on Tuesday, but only after a hold-up because of a violent storm.
The players went off for around 40 minutes in the second half with the game at 0-0 before Sweden secured victory thanks to late goals by Kosovare Asllani and substitute Madelen Janogy.
“The interruption definitely upset us. We didn’t want it to end 0-0, so we wanted to come back out and decide the game and I think we deserved the three points,” said Asllani.
Sweden face Thailand next in Group F, while Chile tackle the USA in Paris on Sunday.
European champions the Netherlands beat New Zealand 1-0 in Le Havre in Group E thanks to a Jill Roord goal in stoppage time.
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg revealed that star player Dzsenifer Marozsan may miss the rest of the tournament after being ruled out of Wednesday’s Group B clash with Spain (1600 GMT) because of a broken toe.
“We will try to get her back on the pitch before the end of the tournament, but we can’t make any predictions,” said Voss-Tecklenburg, who described the 27 year-old as “irreplaceable”.
Wednesday’s also sees Nigeria and South Korea clash in Grenoble (1300 GMT) with both looking to bounce back from opening defeats.