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Germany begins World Cup with impressive 6-goal rout of Morocco

MELBOURNE - Talismanic captain Alexandra Popp scored a brace as Germany launched their bid for a third Women's World Cup title with a 6-0 demolition of debutants Morocco on Monday.

In the tournament's most one-sided match to date, veteran striker Popp led from the front, heading in two first-half strikes before Klara Bühl, Lea Schüller and two own goals blew out the score after the break in front of 27,256 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

The Germans' cake-walk put them top of Group H on three points, with rivals Colombia and South Korea to play their opener in Sydney on Tuesday.

"We stayed true to ourselves," Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told reporters. "It was a great to have a 6-0 score ... I look forward to the next match, but today we want to be happy with what we did today. It was truly a team performance."

Seven months after the Moroccan men's fairytale run to the World Cup semifinals in Qatar, the Atlas Lionesses became the first Arab team to take the field at the women's showpiece. They will hope for better in their next match against South Korea after humiliation against the Euro 2022 runners-up, who took little time to get into their groove and were ruthless to the finish.

"As it stands we came across a team which was superior to our own — David and Goliath," said Morocco coach Reynald Pedros. "They had something that we didn’t. I think it goes without saying we were probably going to lose but I think we didn’t need to lose by six goals."

Under the first burst of sustained German pressure, Morocco were quick to crumble. A poor clearance allowed Kathrin Hendrich space on the right to swing in a cross that goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi misread and Popp thumped in from directly in front in the 11th minute.

Morocco regrouped through captain Ghizlane Chebbak, who launched a long-range effort in the 24th minute, causing Germany's keeper Merle Frohms to scurry across for the save. The first shot on goal energized the Moroccans but their set piece defending proved a dead weight.

Whirling around in the box, Popp scored again in the 39th minute, Bühl's corner pinging off the back of her head.

An animated Chebbak demanded more from her team in a fiery halftime address but 23 seconds after the restart, the Moroccans conceded a third goal. After Lina Magull hit the woodwork from close range, Bühl swooped on a clearance and filed a sizzling, low strike into the right corner.

The night grew ugly for the Moroccans as defender Hanane Aït El Haj put the ball into her own net less than 10 minutes later.

Worse was to come as the Moroccan keeper punched a clearance straight into the head of a teammate, setting up a second own goal by defender Zineb Redouani in the 79th minute.

Lea Schüller completed the rout a minute before stoppage time, smashing in the sixth goal after teammate Lena Lattwein's attempt careened off the keeper.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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