Cristiana Girelli fired Italy into the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup on Friday with a controversial VAR-assisted hat-trick that helped see off 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 with which Girelli opened her tournament account 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.
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