U.S. women's soccer opens Olympic play with shutout of New Zealand
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil -- Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan scored a goal in each half, and the U.S. women's soccer team began its pursuit of a fourth straight Olympic gold medal by defeating New Zealand 2-0 in its debut at the Rio Games on Wednesday.
Lloyd put the Americans ahead with a header in the ninth minute, and Morgan added to the lead with a low shot from inside the area less than a minute into the second half at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
"That was the best way we could have started," said Tobin Heath, who made the cross that led to Lloyd's goal. "We came out with a lot of energy and a lot of determination. I think in that regards we put our best foot forward and got that goal and I think that helped propel us throughout the game."
The U.S. dominated from the start to earn the convincing victory and remain unbeaten in 2016, with 14 shutouts and only one draw in 16 games.
"I was really pleased that we got the clean sheet," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. "I thought we moved the ball against a very determined team."
Near the end of the game, many of the nearly 10,000 fans at the stadium chanted "Zika, Zika'' at goalkeeper Hope Solo, who before coming to the Olympics upset some Brazilians by tweeting a photo of herself wearing a hat with mosquito netting in a reference to the virus.
The chants were repeated after the final whistle.
"I'm glad the fans had fun," Solo said. "And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them."
The Americans are trying to become the first team to win the Olympics after succeeding at the World Cup. The Olympic tournament is the first major competition for the U.S. since the retirement of key players such as Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday following last year's world title in Canada.
The revamped Americans next play France on Saturday, again at the Mineirao.
New Zealand, playing in its third consecutive Olympics, barely threatened the U.S. at the Mineirao, which holds more than 60,000 spectators.
Lloyd opened the scoring after Heath beat a couple of defenders just outside the area before making a cross to the far post, where the U.S. captain outjumped a defender to head the ball into the other corner and score her seventh Olympic goal. Lloyd has scored in three straight Olympics, including in the finals both in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.
It was the 89th goal in 225 appearances for the midfielder, who is the most-capped player at the Olympic tournament. She has 13 Olympic appearances, tied with Solo for the most on the team.
Morgan scored the second goal with a low shot by the near post after receiving a pass by Morgan Brian inside the area. It was Morgan's 12th goal of the year, and fifth at Olympic tournaments.
The U.S. is trying to win its fifth gold medal since women's soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996 in Atlanta. The only time it didn't win the Olympics was in Sydney in 2000, when it lost the final to Norway.
The Americans have a fresh team with 11 Olympic newcomers, although many who made it to Rio were in the World Cup-winning squad in Canada last year.
In addition to playing with a younger team, the U.S. arrived in Rio with some players recovering from injuries, including regular starter Megan Rapinoe, who was on the bench the entire match Wednesday.
Mallory Pugh, 18, started the game to become the youngest American women's player to start in an Olympic match.
The U.S. announced earlier Wednesday that its first two friendlies after the Olympics will be against Thailand on Sept. 15 in Columbus, Ohio, and against the Netherlands on Sept. 18 in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.
Canada 2, Australia 0
The soccer in Sao Paulo saw a piece of Olympic history created by Canada.
Janine Beckie took only 20 seconds to make a mark on her third Summer Games by scoring the fastest goal ever at the Olympics in a 2-0 win over Australia.
It was nine seconds faster than Oribe Peralta's strike for Mexico in the men's gold-medal match against Brazil four years ago in London.
Canada had to cope from the 19th minute with only 10 women after Shelina Zadorsky was sent off for dragging down Michelle Heyman on her way to goal.
But Canada still prevented Australia from equalizing, and captain Christine Sinclair added a second in the 78th.
Germany 6, Zimbabwe 1
Melanie Behringer scored a pair of goals as three-time bronze medalist Germany routed newcomer Zimbabwe 6-1.
Germany, the two-time world champions, opened a two-goal lead with Sara Dabritz in the 22nd and Alexandra Popp in the 36th, before Kudakwashe Basopo scored for Zimbabwe in the 50th.
The Germans continued to dominate in the second half at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, with goals from Behringer in the 53rd and 78th minutes. Melanie Leupolz added another in the 83rd, before the final score came with an own goal by Eunice Chibanda in the 90th.
On Saturday, Germany plays Australia and Zimbabwe faces Canada. Both matches are in Sao Paulo again.
Zimbabwe is playing in the women's soccer tournament for the first time.
Brazil 3, China 0
In Rio de Janeiro's Olympic Stadium, the Brazilian women's team eased to a 3-0 victory over China at the start of its quest for a first Olympic gold.
It's an early sporting high for Brazil, where reservations about the cost of bringing the Olympics to South America for the first time have produced violent reactions.
Brazil embarked on its Olympics bid at a time of prosperity in 2006, but the games are opening with the country in the grip of its worst recession in decades.
But there was a cause for celebrations on the football field. Monica opened the scoring with a header in the 36th minute, followed by Andressa Alves' 59th-minute strike. Cristiane secured Brazil's opening win over China with a goal in the 90th minute.
The Olympic Stadium was fuller than earlier in the day when Sweden beat South Africa 1-0 in the other Group E game but the majority of seats did not appear to be filled.
In the final game of the day in Belo Horizonte, France cruised past Colombia 4-0 to take the group lead over the Americans.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.