The Olympic opening ceremony in Tokyo is still a few days away, but the women’s soccer tournament is already underway across Japan to get enough time for the typically busy schedule.
Without age restrictions and with many of the world’s best players, the Olympic World Cup in women’s international football calendar and match day will not disappoint.
Each competing nation was in action, with Sweden, Brazil and the Netherlands all making big introductory statements, while hot favorites the USA lost an Olympic group stage match for the first time since the defeat against Norway in 2008 and only the second time ever in 25 years of competition.
Here is a summary of all six matches played on day one.
Great Britain 2-0 Chile
Ellen White scored two goals for Great Britain against Chile / Masashi Hara / Getty Images
Britain played their first official match in nine years in a comfortable 2-0 victory against Chile, with two goals from Manchester City striker Ellen White underlining their early medal hopes.
White also got an early goal for offside and GB controlled the game for almost a full 90 minutes. They will take great confidence in the result and the performance after a challenging preparation where their only warm-up opportunity was a training match behind closed doors against New Zealand after arriving in Japan.
Although a rank outsider, Chile were surprisingly poor and even world-class goalkeeper Chirstiane Endler had some shaky moments. GB knows that much tougher tests remain.
Japan 1-1 Canada
Mana Iwabuchi made sure Japan did not start with a loss / Masashi Hara / Getty Images
Hosts Japan avoided defeat in their opening match against 2012 and 2016 bronze medals Canada, thanks to a late equalizer from new Arsenal striker Mana Iwabuchi.
Canada took the lead in Sapporo when world record goal scorer Christine Sinclair netted her 187th international goal in the sixth minute. But the team that has often struggled to score on the biggest stage for a number of years could not expand its lead.
Stephanie Labbe continued to save a penalty from Mina Tanaka, but Japan was then on the rise and eventually came back on equal terms through Iwabuchi. Unfortunately for Labbe, she was forced off by injury and tears before the goal came.
China 0-5 Brazil
Brazil lost comfortable winners over China / Koki Nagahama / Getty Images
With so many of its players being 30 or (significantly) older, this could be the last chance for a number of Brazilian players to win an elusive Olympic gold medal and Selecao started their stables with an emphatic 5-0 trashing of China.
Marta needed just nine minutes to open the scoring, while Debinha doubled the lead in the middle of the first half. China had its own chances begging and leaving destroying the missed opportunities when Brazil ran away with it late.
Marta added her second and Brazil’s third, before Andressa Alves made it four from the penalty spot and Bia Zaneratto took a late fifth.
Zambia 3-10 Netherlands
Vivianne Miedema scored four when the Netherlands won 10-3 against Zambia / BSR Agency / Getty Images
European champions and world championships in the Netherlands started their Olympic journey by setting a new record for the most goals a team scored in a single game in the history of the competition. A total of 13 goals in the 10-3 victory over Zambia was also an Olympic record.
The Dutch led 6-1 at half time against the first time, with Vivianne Miedema competing a hat trick within the initial half hour. Lieke Martens (2) and Shanice van de Sanden were also on the score before the interval, while the lead was eventually extended to 10-1.
Miedema finished with four, but two late consolation goals also gave Zambia’s Barbra Banda his own trick, having previously also scored in the first half.
Sweden 3-0 USA
Sweden stunned gold medal favorites USA with a 3-0 opening win / Ian MacNicol / Getty Images
The hot favorites before the tournament for gold, the USA were stunned by Sweden for the second consecutive Olympics, with the Scandinavians deserved 3-0 winners.
USWNT has a squad with 17 of its World Cup winners from 2019, several of which also won in 2015, but this is now an old team and they were second best against the Swedes, with Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle failed to make a difference, whether from the start or off the bench.
Stina Blackstenius, who scored when Sweden beat the Americans in 2016, netted twice to give her country a surprise lead. Lina Hurtig then got a third halfway through the second half to sail the win and emphasize Sweden’s own gold medal prospects.
Australia 2-1 New Zealand
Sam Kerr and Australia ultimately did light work of New Zealand / Ian MacNicol / Getty Images
Australia looked comfortable during most of their first 2-1 win over New Zealand and might have had a bigger lead before the end without Erin Nayler’s efforts in goal for Football Ferns.
Tameka Yallop, recently West Ham, and Chelsea striker Sam Kerr each did in the first half to give Matilda a leading lead over her 2023 World Cup hosts in just over half an hour. More chances came but Australia could not find themselves past Nayler a third time.
New Zealand did not pose a real threat until 20-year-old Gabi Rennie appeared from the bench to take a consolation in stoppage time to create a nervous last minute.
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