CHICAGO (Saturday, September 20, 2003) - The FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003 opened on Saturday with doubleheaders at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia and Columbus Crew Stadium. Two of the top seeded teams, Norway and Germany posted victories, while North Korea and Japan stormed to the top of their respective group standings with impressive results.
Norway and France opened the tournament with a Group B match in Philadelphia. The match was scoreless through the first half, before Norway - the 1995 Women's World Cup and defending Olympic champion - broke through with a goal early in the second half, Anita Rapp converting a header from close range in the 47th minute after Brit Sandaune served a free kick into the box from the left side. Norway added a second goal in the 66th minute from Dagny Mellgren, whose initial shot was stopped by French goalkeeper Celine Marty, but Mellgren was able to convert a difficult follow-up on the rebound. The 2-0 victory puts Norway at the top of the Group for now, with Brazil and South Korea set to play on Sunday in Washington, D.C.
North Korea took the early lead in Group A with a 3-0 victory over Nigeria on Saturday. Jin Pyol Hui scored two goals and assisted on the third, which was scored by Ri Un Gyong. The remaining two Group A rivals - United States and Sweden - begin play on Sunday at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
All four teams in Group C played Saturday, as Germany fell behind early, only to recover for a 4-1 victory over Canada as four different players contributed goals for Germany. Japan posted the most decisive result of the opening day, defeating Argentina - making its first appearance at the FIFA Women's World Cup - by a 6-0 margin. Homare Sawa led the Japanese to a 2-0 halftime lead before Japan pulled away from Argentina with four second-half tallies, including a hat-trick by Mio Otani - all three goals scored within an 8-minute span of the second half. Argentina's cause was hurt by the sending off of Natalia Gatti just before halftime.
Group D teams continued preparations saturday for their openers on Sunday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Australia and Russia play in the first match of the doubleheader, followed by 1999 finalist China taking on Ghana.
Results: Saturday, September 20
Norway 2 - France 0 (Group B)
North Korea 3 - Nigeria 0 (Group A)
Germany 4 - Canada 1 (Group C)
Japan 6 - Argentina 0 (Group C)
Schedule: Sunday, September 21
Group A: United States vs. Sweden (RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.) - 12:30 p.m. ET - ABC, TeleFutura
Group B: Brazil vs. South Korea (RFK Stadium - Washington, D.C.) - 3:00 p.m. ET - Galavision
Group D: Australia vs. Russia (Home Depot Center - Carson, Calif.) - 8:30 p.m. ET - Galavision
Group D: China vs. Ghana (Home Depot Center - Carson, Calif.) - 11:00 p.m. ET - ESPN2, Galavision