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Marta makes history, Kerr drives Australia through

June 19, 2019

She's a six-time world player of the year and has now scored 17 World Cup goals, but Marta has never won women's football's biggest prize. Judging by the competition in Group C, that could be a tall order this year too.

Marta (#10) and teammates celebrate her record-breaking goal on June 18
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/M. Smith

It's liable to mean a lot less to Marta than the title that has eluded her and Brazil ever since the women's World Cup began, but the 33-year-old is now the most prolific World Cup scorer in history. 

She already held that honor among the women, but pulled clear of German footballer Miroslav Klose's career tally of 16 with her penalty in Brazil's 1-0 win against Italy in Valenciennes on Tuesday. 

"The feeling is a joyful one, definitely, not only for breaking the record but for being able to represent women in doing so," the veteran attacker said, adding that being able to help her team qualify for the next stage of the tournament was what mattered most to her.

While Marta is broadly considered a candidate for the best female footballer of all time, her team Brazil have only ever managed a runner up medal during her career, losing the 2007 final 2-0 to Germany. Later named the player of the tournament, after scoring seven times in the competition, Marta missed a penalty that night which could have tied the score at 1-1. 

The Selecao could have a hard time winning the grand prize this year, based on the evidence offered by the unusually tough Group C. Brazil emerge from the group in just third position — setting up an extremely difficult round of 16 match against one of the group winners, quite probably hosts France, or Germany. 

Read more:  Women's World Cup: Germany find their shooting boots just before the knockouts

Four-in-one from Sam Kerr

Brazil's hopes of second spot in this "Group of Death" were undone by similarly impressive scoring antics from Australia's Sam Kerr. 

Sam Kerr
Sam Kerr kept Australia from a tough game against France or Germany almost single-handedImage: Reuters/D. Balibouse

Kerr rifled in all four of the goals for The Matildas as they dispatched Jamaica 4-1. Australia will play Norway in Nice on Saturday, seeking a spot in the quarterfinals.

All three of Group C's heavy hitters — Italy, Brazil and Australia — finished the group with two wins and six points each. But Kerr's last, late goal pulled Australia level with Brazil on goal difference and allowed their superior total number of goals to make the difference, securing The Matildas second place.

The 25-year-old is a lot younger than Marta, who is playing in her fifth World Cup. But even Kerr's taking part in her third. Having made her Australia debut aged 15, she later secured a spot at the 2011 World Cup in Germany as a teenager. Her competition debut, in Mönchengladbach, was a narrow 1-0 defeat to Marta's Brazil. 

Though an early bloomer, clinical and prolific finishing are a comparatively new string to Kerr's bow. She's been scoring with a lot more regularity in the past two seasons. As she carries her newfound scoring form from club level onto the biggest stage — with five goals in three group stage games putting her level with Alex Morgan atop the 2019 World Cup scoring charts — Kerr's one of several younger players who might one day turn their eye to records like Marta's.

Read more:  Women in football's boardrooms: Alone among men

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Mark Hallam News and current affairs writer and editor with DW since 2006.@marks_hallam