Reims: Cristiana Girelli fired Italy into the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup last night with a controversial VAR-assisted hat-trick that helped see off hapless Jamaica 5-0 and put them top of Group C.
Italy join France and Germany in the knockout stages following the Juventus striker’s treble and a late brace from Aurora Galli, which gives Milena Bertolini’s side a perfect six points – three more than both Australia and Brazil – and puts them through with a game to spare.
However the penalty caused controversy, with referee Anna-Marie Keighley pointing to the spot after a VAR check in the 10th minute for a what looked like a soft foul on Barabara Bonansea.
Girelli then missed the spot-kick, but Keighley allowed her to retake following another VAR check that Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider had encroached.
The 29-year-old made no mistake the second time round – two minutes after the original penalty was given – before doubling Italy’s lead 13 minutes later when she bundled home Bonansea’s flick-on from a corner.
Girelli became just the second Italian woman to score a World Cup hat-trick just after the break when she beat Schneider to a looping cross.
Substitute Galli then completed the rout, first firing home a long-range effort in the 71st minute before neatly taking Manuela Giugliano’s through ball and rounding Schneider to slot home the fifth 10 minutes later.
Earlier, Mana Iwabuchi and Yuika Sugasawa were on the scoresheet as Japan got their campaign back on track with a 2-1 victory over Scotland in Rennes.
Japan were coming off a uninspiring goalless draw with lowly-ranked Argentina in their opener but looked much sharper in the attacking third against Scotland.
They got a breakthrough when striker Iwabuchi controlled a poor headed clearance from Scotland captain Rachel Corsie before unleashing a powerful strike high into the net from 20 metres.
Sugasawa doubled Japan’s lead from the spot in the 37th minute after another defensive error from Corsie, who was penalised for tugging back the forward in the box.
Scotland pulled one back through a curling effort from substitute Lana Clelland but Japan held on to the advantage.