Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - SPORTS -

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 quar­ter­fi­nal op­po­nents and hosts France, who return to ac­tion 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.

“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 quar­ter­fi­nals 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 yes­ter­day. 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 holdup 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 the Group B clash with Spain 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 VossTeck­len­burg, who de­scribed the 27 year-old as “ir­re­place­able”.

Alex Morgan (C) cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing a goal UNITED STATES 13 THAI­LAND 00

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