It is that time of the year again, where 12 nations gather to fight it out for the Algarve Cup Trophy.
Group A consists of Australia, China, Norway and Portugal, while Canada, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Sweden make up group B.
In Group C we find the reigning European Champions, The Netherlands, and the runners-up, Denmark. Joining them are Iceland and Japan.
Portugal 2 – 1 China
It was a goalless first half, but China got on the scoresheet first through Xu Yanlu. It took just three minutes for Portugal to equalize, with Carolina Mendes grabbing a goal. Carole Costa ensured a Portuguese victory when she scored a spectacular goal from the midway line with five minutes remaining. The 2-1 win means Portugal take all three points in the opening game.
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Australia 4 – 3 Norway
The game between Australia and Norway didn’t lack any chances, goal or excitement. Norway drew first blood when Elise Thorsnes put the ball in the net after good initial work by Kristine Minde set her up. The early opening goal for Norway kickstarted Australia, who just two minutes later got back into the game via Clare Polkinghorne. Goals from Chloe Logarzo and Sam Kerr saw Australia take a 3-1 lead into the dressing room at halftime. Norway were far from done, and a header from Lisa-Marie Utland and a penalty from Thorsnes got the Scandinavians back into it. Both teams had plenty of chances to take the win, and just as it looked like it would end with a draw, Polkinghorne gave the Australians the win in the 95th minute.
A hectic game ends with a 4-3 win to Australia who take all three points.
Republic of Korea 3 – 1 Russia
It took 15 minutes for Anna Belomyttseva to give Russia the lead, but a Lee Mi-Na goal on the brink of halftime saw the two teams head into the break with a goal each. The second half was just five minutes old when Han Chae-Rin gave Korea the lead.
A Jung Seol-Bin goal after 77 minutes put the game beyond doubt, and the 3-1 win saw Korea get a perfect start to their Algarve Cup tournament.
Canada 1 – 3 Sweden
There was not a lot of chances to pick from in the first half, with both teams organizing themselves well. However, as the game approached halftime, Sweden, who up until then had lacked that final ball, found a way through. Mimmi Larsson seized on a rebound after Stephanies Labbe initially saved a Sofia Jakobsson shot. 1-0 to the Swedes at the break.
The first five minutes of the second half offered more in the way of chances than the entire first half, and Canada needed just a few minutes to find their equalizer, with Janine Beckie (goal was originally given to Nichelle Prince) getting on the scoresheet. The Swedes were not ready to give up their lead and not long after they caught Canada on the wrong foot and Fridolina Rolfö made it 2-1. Sweden put the game beyond doubt when Stina Blackstenius made it 3-1 after a Canadian defender played the ball right to her.
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Japan 2 – 6 Netherlands
The Netherlands came out firing on all cylinders when they faced Japan. At the end of the first half, the Netherlands had scored no less than five goals, while Japan had put one past the dutch. Lieke Martens opened the scoring after just 3 minutes with the assist delivery coming from Lineth Beerensteyn.
Five minutes later the roles were reversed as Martens assisted Beerensteyn for the 2-0. This was just the start as Siri Worm made it 3-0 with her first goal for the NT, before Shanice van de Sanden marked her 50th appearance with a goal. Japan got one back through Emi Nakajima, but Stefanie van der Gragt scored another before halftime. The second half had “just” two goals. Martens got a brace shortly into the second half, while Mana Iwabuchi got a consolation goal for Japan to make it 6-2.
Denmark 0 - 0 Iceland
While the first game in the group had plenty of goals, there were none in the second. It was tough conditions for the two Nordic sides, with the wind blowing up a minor storm. With neither team finding that all important goal, the two teams share the spoils.