Morgan scores five as USA open World Cup defense with record victory

The US team routed Thailand in Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims, France. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2019

Morgan scores five as USA open World Cup defense with record victory

  • The defending champions orchestrated a record-setting 13-0 destruction of hapless Thailand

REIMS, France: Holders the United States began their defense of the women’s World Cup trophy in style on Tuesday as Alex Morgan scored five times in an incredible, record-setting 13-0 destruction of hapless Thailand in Reims.
Ten of their goals came in the second half as the USA set a new mark for the biggest winning margin in a women’s World Cup match, bettering Germany’s 11-0 defeat of Argentina in 2007.
Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis netted twice each while Lindsey Horan, skipper Megan Rapinoe and substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd also found the net for the USA in an embarrassingly one-sided Group F encounter watched by a crowd of more than 18,000 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.
The result also far outstrips the USA’s own record result in a World Cup match, which had been their 7-0 defeat of Taiwan in the quarter-finals of the first tournament in 1991.
Morgan was the star of the show, with her five goals in one game equalling the record for a player in a World Cup match set by her compatriot Michelle Akers, and taking her to 106 in total for her country on her 164th appearance.
She had an effort disallowed for offside inside five minutes but quickly made up for that by nodding in a Kelley O’Hara cross, before Thai goalkeeper Sukanya Chor Charoenying — standing at just 1.65m tall — allowed Lavelle’s shot to beat her at the near post.
Horan smashed in the third in the 32nd minute, but the floodgates really opened in the second half as Jill Ellis’s side scored four times in six minutes shortly after the restart.
Mewis bagged two either side of Morgan getting her second from close range, before Mewis squared for Lavelle to make it seven.
Only after that did the legendary Lloyd, scorer of a hat-trick in the 2015 final and now 36, come on.
There was a lull and it looked as if Thailand might avoid claiming an unwanted record, but the holders scored six more in the closing stages.
Morgan got three more to equal the record of Akers set in that game against Taiwan in 1991, while Rapinoe, Pugh and Lloyd joined in too as spectators struggled to keep up with the scoring.
The USA, who are aiming to win the trophy for the fourth time overall, now go to Paris where on Sunday they will face Chile, who lost 2-0 to Sweden earlier on Tuesday.


Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

The first stage of Rally Qassim began in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170km. Several drivers are keen to test before the Dakar Rally crosses the country for the first time in January 2020. (SPA)
Updated 19 October 2019

Dakar Rally stars gear up for ‘thrilling’ Saudi race challenge

  • French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Dakar Rally drivers are gearing up for a “thrilling and exciting” challenge when the world-famous desert race is staged in Saudi Arabia for the first time next year.
The Kingdom will host the event from Jan. 5 to 17, 2020 with top racers from around the globe traveling thousands of kilometers through inhospitable terrain in cars, trucks and on quad bikes and motorcycles.
The rally will begin in Jeddah and follow a tough route through desert, sand dunes and mountainous areas taking in NEOM, the Red Sea Project, Riyadh and Qiddiya.
French driver Stéphane Peterhansel, a 13-time winner of the Dakar Rally, revealed that he was initially surprised to hear that the competition had been moved from Africa to Saudi Arabia.
“However, after doing some research, I realized that Saudi Arabia was a very wonderful and suitable country for the rally. It has different terrain types, and I expect us to have a perfect track. The vast desert gives me hope that the 2020 Saudi Dakar Rally will be more thrilling and exciting than Africa,” he said.
Five-time Dakar Rally winner and fellow French driver, Cyril Despres, said that racing in Saudi Arabia would be a new adventure that could only be experienced by those who lived up to its challenges.
“When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world,” he added.

Positive move
British rally raid motorcycle rider, Sam Sunderland, who won his category in the 2017 Dakar Rally, said he was delighted to be participating in the Saudi race. “I believe that this change is good, as I have lived in Dubai for 10 years, having adapted well to the Middle East’s atmosphere.

When I heard that the Dakar Rally was moving for the first time to the Middle East, I remembered the words of its founder, Thierry Sabine, who said that if you liked exploring the African Continent, you would also love exploring other parts of the world.

Cyril Despres, French driver

“Exploring a new area is a positive move for the Dakar Rally, and I am certain that everyone who practices this sport is excited to explore a new ground for racing,” Sunderland added.
ED Racing Team driver, Issa Al-Dossari, said the main reason he had taken part in Rally Qassim was to prepare for the Dakar challenge.
“We will be using two cars in the rally. We look forward to raising the level of preparedness for many coming global events. But this does not mean that we will not compete for the top places.”
Al-Dossari invited sports fans to visit the team’s headquarters at Date City to see equipment and meet its members.
The team must participate in two different cars, the first driven by Al-Dossari with his French navigator Sébastien Delaunay, and the second with Emirati Abdallah Al-Huraiz behind the wheel and Ali Hassan navigating.
The first stage of Rally Qassim began on Friday in Umm Sidra covering a distance of 170 km, with stage two raced over 200 km.
Meanwhile, entry registrations for the Dakar Rally are still open in all categories at https://www.dakar.com/en/the-competitors/register.