Brazilian women seal first victory

Cristiane (centre) surrounded by Chinese players during the first-round women's football match at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. She scored the final goal for Brazil in the 3-0 win.
Cristiane (centre) surrounded by Chinese players during the first-round women's football match at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. She scored the final goal for Brazil in the 3-0 win.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Host nation defeat China in football as defending champs US beat New Zealand

RIO DE JANEIRO • Hosts Brazil and world champions the United States made winning starts in the Olympics women's football tournament on Wednesday although the competition met with a lukewarm response from fans.

Brazil comfortably saw off the challenge of China, winning 3-0 at the Olympic stadium in Rio thanks to goals from Monica, Andressa Alves and Cristiane.

The United States began their quest for a fifth Olympic gold in six Games with a 2-0 win over New Zealand in Belo Horizonte.

World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd opened the scoring before Alex Morgan added a second.

However, the opening day of action saw vast swathes of empty seats across Brazil, with six cities that hosted the 2014 World Cup being used for both women's and men's Olympic tournaments.

The first match of the Games saw Sweden beat South Africa 1-0 in an almost empty 60,000-seat Olympic stadium in Rio.

A healthier crowd enjoyed Brazil's win with expectations high that five-time World Player of the Year Marta can inspire the hosts to go one better than the silver medals they won at the 2004 and 2008 Games and end the USA's run of three straight golds.

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  • Cristiane is the Olympics' all-time top scorer in women's football.

The 30-year-old, playing in her fourth Olympics, showed flashes of brilliance, even prompting the crowd to chant that she was better than golden boy Neymar.

"Scoring three times against a team like China, with all the pressure we had, I think it's super perfect," said Marta.

Many tickets also remain available for top Olympic attractions coming up in the days ahead, including blue-riband athletics races such as the 100m final.

The football tournament - the first sport of the Rio Games - came as a welcome diversion for Olympic chiefs, who have been mired in the fallout from the drugs scandal involving Russia.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said that a "record" 18 appeals, mostly involving Russian athletes, had been launched ahead of the Games.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach said the Russia scandal, which he has described as "contemptuous," had exposed deficiencies in the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

"Recent developments have shown that we need a full review of the Wada anti-doping system," he told an IOC session that continued on Wednesday.

Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, questioned on Wednesday whether he had ever swum in a "clean" sport as he prepared for his fifth Games.

"We all want clean sports," the American told a news conference.

"We want everybody to be on the same playing field.

"I think I can honestly say as well in my career I don't know if I've ever competed in a clean sport," added the 31-year-old, winner of 18 career Olympic golds and 22 medals in all.

"And it's upsetting."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 05, 2016, with the headline 'Brazilian women seal first victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe