Moenchengladbach, Jun 30 : Brazil and Norway lived up to their status as Group D favourites when they both opened their Women's World Cup campaigns with 1-0 wins on Wednesday.
But the footballing heavyweights were pushed hard by rivals Australia and debutantes Equatorial Guinea respectively in ties which wrapped up the first round of group matches.
Brazil, the 2007 runners-up, needed a 54th-minute goal from Rosana to get past a young Australian side in Moenchengladbach, while earlier in Augsburg Emelie Haavi's late goal ensured all three points for 1995 champions Norway.
“I knew coming here that we were going to play the toughest competition ever,” said Brazilian coach Kleiton Lima.
“Women's football has come a long way in the last four years and we knew we would play very hard matches.”
Despite boasting five-time World Player of the Year Marta in their ranks the Brazilians showed signs of early nerves.
The much-anticipated clash had failed to warm the crowd early on with Brazil superstar Marta far from her usual inspirational form as the young Matildas proved more than a match for the world number three team.
Australian coach Tom Sermanni fielded a new line-up including teenagers Emily van Egmond, 17, and Caitlin Foord, 16, and admitted he was proud of how they helped contain 25-year-old Marta.
Both sides missed chances to score in the first half in front of the 27,258 spectators but Brazil came out firing after the break with Rosana finally lifting spirits after she picked up a short pass from Cristiane.
Lisa De Vanna missed one of Australia's last chances to grab a point when she broke free three minutes from time only to fire wide as an injury-time corner from Collette McCallum gave hope of an equaliser before being cleared.
“It was a tough, really difficult match,” said Lima.
“When you're at a World Cup players might be experienced but they get nervous and this can get in the way. After the break the team gained more confidence and played a bit more organised football.”
It was a similar case in Augsburg, with Norway having the run of play early in the second half before finally breaking through in the 84th minute.
Leni Larsen Kaurin crossed from the right side to Haavi, who struck into the upper netting from left of goal for the Norwegians.
“I had a feeling it would be a tough game. The main thing is that we have three points. And now we can focus on getting three more points,” said Norway coach Eli Landsem.
“We had a lot of chances and actually we were hoping to score even more goals.”
The second round of Group D matches will take place on Sunday with Brazil taking on Norway in Wolfsburg, while Australia play Equatorial Guinea in Bochum. AFP