| Argentina’s Luciana Aymar (right) in action against New Zealand at the women’s World Cup in Perth Sunday. Argentina won 1-0. (Reuters)
Perth: Defending champions Australia cruised to a 4-0 victory over the US in the women’s World Cup hockey match Sunday while Argentina, England, Germany and The Netherlands also got off to winning starts.
First half strikes by Nicki Hudson, skipper Katrina Powell, Wendy Alcorn and Karen Smith ensured the victory for the Aussies.
But the team eased off in the second half as the US tightened up their defence.
“In the last 12 months that is certainly our best start to a tournament,” Australian coach David Bell said.
Argentina edged out New Zealand 1-0, but their finishing was far from satisfactory. Their coach Sergio Vigil played down speculations that his side were favourites for the trophy. “We never take favouritism seriously. The only truth is what happens inside the field.”
Argentina’s winner came in the 45th minute when Agustia Garcia hammered home from five metres after Diana Weavers was made to pay dearly for a slow clearance inside the circle.
Five times world champions The Netherlands started with a sizzling 3-0 victory over South Africa.
In a fast, free-flowing match, the Dutch displayed superb finishing skills, but had to wait until the 32nd minute before finding the net. Veteran midfielder Macha van Der vaart carved through the South African defence before unleashing a powerful shot into the top left-hand corner of the net.
In the 38th minute, defender Janneke Schopman crowned a brilliant approach with a stinging, low shot from the edge of the circle.
Skipper Mijntje Donners, in her 180th international appearance, sealed victory witha 55-minute strike.
In the opening clash of the tournament, Spain drew 1-1 with Japan. Spain controlled the match for the scoreless first half before taking the lead through Maria Ramarosa in the 43rd minute.
But Japan hit back three minutes later when a dazzling midfield run by Kaori Chiba culminated in a goal.
England outplayed Ireland 3-1 with Alex Danson and Leisa King scoring for the winners.
South Korea held China goalless while Germany outclassed Russia 4-0.
In the final game of the day, Ukraine defeated Scotland 2-1, courtesy goals from Svitlana Kolomiyets and Natalya Vasyukoba.