Brazil great Marta put her name in the record books once again, scoring from the penalty spot against Italy to become the most prolific scorer in World Cup finals history.
Her 17th Women’s World Cup goal secured a 1-0 win and saw her overtake Germany’s Miroslav Klose as the outright leading scorer in either the men’s or women’s tournament.
It was a record-breaking evening in both Group C matches as Havana Solaunn scored Jamaica’s first Women’s World Cup goal, but it was not enough to prevent the Reggae Girlz from falling to defeat as four goals from Sam Kerr – the first Australian player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup – sealed a comfortable 4-1 win for the Matildas.
Tuesday’s results mean Italy, Brazil and Australia qualify for the knockout stages while Jamaica, the first Caribbean country to play in the Women’s World Cup, fail to progress after three defeats in three matches.
Marta, a six-time FIFA Player of the Year and widely regarded as the greatest woman to ever play the game, celebrated her feat by kissing her boot.
Arriving in France nursing a muscle strain, the 33-year-old has featured in just two of Brazil’s three group games – being on the pitch for a total of just 129 minutes – but she has made an impact on both occasions, scoring on Tuesday to break Klose’s record and finding the net against Australia last week to become the first player to score in five Women’s World Cups.
With 17 goals in 19 matches, Marta now has two more World Cup goals than her compatriot Ronaldo and five more than Brazilian icon Pele, a three-time World Cup winner.
For all her individual accolades, however, the Brazil captain has never won the World Cup, her best finish a runner-up medal in 2007.
But if Marta is to become a World Cup winner this year, Brazil will need to improve.
The former finalists have been far from convincing even as Marta’s strike from the spot, after a harshly awarded penalty in the 74th minute when Italy defender Elena Linari barged into Debinha inside the box, made sure of progress to the last 16. Their opponent will be either France or two-time champion Germany.
“We were obviously targeting the first place in the group, but this is a World Cup after all,” Marta told reporters.
“Now it doesn’t matter who will cross our path. We can’t choose it. We have cleared a goal of ours: qualifying. Now it’s a matter to get ready and to try to go further.”
Despite the loss, Italy – which had qualified for the knockout stages for the first time since 1991 with a game to spare – topped Group C on goal difference.
Kerr makes history too
In Grenoble, Australia captain Kerr was in a ruthless mood. Her four goals against Jamaica made her joint top scorer of the tournament alongside American Alex Morgan. No Australian has scored more in a single Women’s World Cup.
In theory, Jamaica could have qualified for the knockout stages but the minimum requirement was to beat Australia, an unlikely outcome after Kerr’s two first half headers.
Shortly after the break, substitute Solaun halved the deficit by collecting Khadija Shaw’s through ball and finding the bottom right corner of the net. But that was as good as it got for the Reggae Girlz.
Kerr pounced again in the 69th and 83rd minutes to seal a victory which put the Matildas, second in Group C on goal difference, on course for a last-16 tie against Norway in Nice on June 22.
“She’s an inspirational leader,” said Australian coach Ante Milic of Kerr.
“We should be thankful we’re witnessing one of the best players in the world live. She got her rewards and fully deserved it. She’s a special one. I’m delighted for her. It’s history. All of the accolades must go to her but also the service she got from the rest of the team.”