Reggae Girlz On The Brink

Italians give five star display against dismal Jamaica

JOY: The Italians celebrate

SYDNEY SCHNEIDER, the Jamaican shot-stopper, saved a spot-kick but was booked for moving too soon and conceded the first of five goals as Italy outplayed the Reggae Girlz 5-0.

The majority of fans inside the Stade Auguste-Delaune at Reims were rooting for the Girlz due to hosts France’s deadly rivalry with neighbouring Italy.

But Cristiana Girelli’s hat-trick soon had the stadium in silence to leave Jamaica, the lowest-ranked team in the Women’s World Cup finals, shaken but not stirred. With Aurora Galli, relegated to the bench, bagging a brace it was a poor performance by the Girlz.

Jamaica, who named the youngest starting XI average age at the World Cup finals so far – 22 years, 151 days – were rattled from the start. The industrious Schneider pulled off a fine save from Barbara Bonansea’s ambitious 5th-minute shot from outside the box. And it was one-way traffic throughout.

Allyson Swaby clumsily brought down Bonansea in the box five minutes later. Up stepped Juventus’ Girelli, whose initial penalty was saved by Schneider diving to her left.

But Schneider was punished for prematurely moving off her line and on the re-laid Girelli wrong-footed the keeper, who dived to her left again, with a low drive.

Girelli doubled their lead on 25 minutes with a simple close range strike after Manuela Giugliano’s cross bounced off her thigh and the Jamaican defence were caught dozing.

With the Italians in cruise control, Daniela Sabatino was unfortunate not to add to their tally, her rasping shot denied by the crossbar.

And within 60 seconds of the second half Girelli completed her stunning hat-trick with a close range header, sending Giugliano’s right wing cross into the bottom left corner.

Jamaica became only the third team in Women’s World Cup history to have seen a hat-trick scored against them in consecutive matches, following this week’s 3-0 mauling by Brazil and their hat-trick hero Cristiane.

Galli, relegated to the bench, produced the goal of the game within six minutes after coming on with her stinging 25-yard drive with 20 minutes of the one-sided affair remaining.

Galli’s polished off the emphatic win with a composed 80th-minute goal, rounding helpless Schneider, to book Italy their place in the World Cup last 16 with victory over hapless Jamaica.

The gulf in class was apparent from kick-off, leaving the Girlz to chase shadows and they will bow out of the competition unless they score a hat-ful of goals against Australia, who stunned Brazil, in their final group game.

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