August 7, 2016 / 4:05 AM / a year ago

Soccer - Marta stars for five-star Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil striker Marta laughed off comparisons with Neymar on Saturday after she scored twice in Brazil’s 5-1 victory over Sweden at the Rio Olympics.

2016 Rio Olympics - Soccer - Preliminary - Women's First Round - Group E Brazil v Sweden - Olympic Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 06/08/2016. Marta (BRA) of Brazil celebrates after scoring their fourth goal. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

With the home fans chanting ‘Marta is better than Neymar,’ five-times World Player of the Year Marta led her side to their second consecutive win in front of 43,000 fans in Rio de Janeiro.

Barcelona forward Neymar carries the hopes of the home nation on his shoulders in the men’s competition as they seek to win Olympic gold for the first time, while Marta will be no less key to Brazil’s chances of success in the women’s tournament.

“We know Neymar is our best player right now and he is fantastic, we support him and he supports us but we’ll leave the comparison to the fans,” Marta said. “We have Marta, we have Neymar, we have Cristiane, we’re all Brazilian.”

While Brazil’s men failed to impress in a laboured 0-0 draw against South Africa on Thursday, home fans delighted in the football played by the women’s team, who outclassed Sweden despite being two places below them in the world rankings.

Brazil, ranked eighth in the world, opened the scoring through Beatriz after 21 minutes when she ran through on goal, outmuscled a defender and poked the ball home.

Sweden had a goal disallowed shortly after then fell 2-0 behind in 24 minutes when Marta crossed the ball along the six-yard box and Cristiane’s clever flick took a deflection on its way to the net.

Marta got the third from the penalty spot just seconds before half time and then scored Brazil’s fourth with 10 minutes remaining when she slotted home from eight yards after playing a fortunate one-two off a Swedish defender.

Beatriz got her second in the 86th minute when she created a yard of space in the box and curled the ball into the far corner of the net.

Lotta Schelin got a consolation goal for the Swedes with two minutes remaining.

The only blip for Brazil, who have scored eight in two games after beating China 3-0, was seeing Cristiane carried off with a thigh injury after 66 minutes.

While Brazil have already sewed up a place in the next round, Marta said they would not hold back against South Africa in their next group game.

“This means we are calmer but we can’t let that influence us and relax,” she said. “We were delighted that we had the same performance as in the first game and that is our challenge, to keep that going all the way to the final.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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