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Jul 3, 2011

Marta masterclass, Australia thriller

Brazil sealed their progress into the Women's World Cup quarter-finals with a convincing 3-0 win over Norway thanks to a starring performance from Marta.

Marta, the World Player of the Year, was in top form to secure an easy win for Brazil and opened the scoring as she controversially outmuscled Ingvild Stensland to race through on goal, beat another defender and hammer the ball past goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth at the near post.

Norway did well to hold off more Brazilian attacks, but it took all of one minute after the break for Brazil to double their lead. Again it was Marta who caused the problems with a mazy run down the left that had the Norwegian defenders backpedalling and, as the forward slipped the ball across the box, Cristiane dummied and Rosana was on hand to slide the ball into the net.

With Norway rattled, they contributed to their own downfall as a poor pass back inside the area saw Hjelmseth closed down by Cristiane and her shot rebounded to Marta, who showed great composure to hammer home the third.

Earlier, Australia kept their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals alive by defeating Equatorial Guinea 3-2 in a thrilling contest in Bochum.

In the most pulsating match of the tournament so far, five goals were shared between the two sides but the Equatoguineans were left staring a group-stage exit in the face.

Australia dominated early on and they rewarded after just eight minutes when Leena Khamis was on hand to tap-in after Heather Garrick's shot was parried.

Minutes later saw what was unquestionably the most bizarre moment of this, or possibly any, World Cup as Equatorial Guinea defender Bruna caught hold of the ball inside the penalty area - believing a free-kick had been given for offside. The referee hadn't blown her whistle, but was also oblivious to the handball and so play continued as normal.

The African minnows took advantage of their fortune and soon got themselves level, as captain Anonman pounced on a defensive error to slot past Matildas' goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

The Equatoguineans held on until half-time but they were behind again three minutes after the restart, Emily Van Egmand driving home before substitute Lisa De Vanna doubled the lead with a prodded finish.

Tom Sermanni's side were good value for their lead but almost threw it away when allowing Anonman to reduce the deficit late on. However, the Aussies held on and now face a crunch final group stage clash with Norway.

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