Holders United States began their trophy defence by recording the biggest win in Women’s World Cup history as Alex Morgan scored five goals in a 13-0 demolition of hapless Thailand on Tuesday.
The USA, who won the World Cup for a third time in Canada four years ago, scored 10 in the second half in Reims as they bettered Germany’s 11-0 win over Argentina in 2007 and shattered their own previous tournament best of 7-0.
Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis netted twice each while Lindsey Horan, skipper Megan Rapinoe and substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also got on the scoresheet in an embarrassingly one-sided Group F encounter watched by more than 18,000 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.
The Americans were relentless against opponents ranked 34th in the world and hit back at suggestions they could have taken their foot off the pedal and saved Thailand from complete humiliation, rather than scoring six times in the last 16 minutes.
“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.
“With the scoreline tonight, we have to look at the group stage as every goal counts and it was important for us to continue to go,” insisted the striker.
Morgan is one of 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.
The reigning champions – with four survivors in their line-up from the team that started the final against Japan four years ago – scored as many goals as there had been in the previous seven matches at the tournament.
“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.”
A large American presence in Reims ensured that the match was one of 13 confirmed sell-outs, FIFA revealed on Tuesday, adding that more than a million tickets had now been sold for the tournament.
Group rivals Sweden, who ousted the USA in the quarter-finals of the Rio Olympics three years ago, started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Chile in Rennes earlier in the day, but only after a hold-up because of torrential rain.
‘We deserved three points’
Rain had been falling for around a quarter of an hour when, with conditions deteriorating and a threat of thunderstorms, Mexican referee Lucila Venegas decided to take the players off in the 72nd minute with the score 0-0.
Play eventually resumed following a break of around 40 minutes, and late goals from Kosovare Asllani and substitute Madelen Janogy gave Sweden, the 2003 runners-up, the points.
“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.
European champions the Netherlands also got off to a winning start, but left it very late to beat New Zealand in Le Havre.
Jill Roord came off the bench and headed home from close range in added time to give the Dutch a 1-0 victory, putting them level with Canada atop Group E.
Elsewhere, 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 because of a broken toe.