[WOMEN'S WORLD CUP]
While the level of play at the Women's World Cup has not been great, several individuals have stood out. The great goal scorers of the
women's game -- Marta
, Birgit Prinz
, Abby Wambach
and company -- have waged a
fierce battle for the scoring title. Here's a look at the leading scorers at the 2007 Women's World Cup ... MARTA (Brazil, 5 goals)
. Marta grew
up playing against boys in her hometown of Dois Riachos in the northern Brazilian state of Alagoas. Now, she plays like a man, says Brazil teammate Simone. Marta, 22, is the best player in the
world and the biggest threat for the USA in its quest for a third world championship. Brazil, which faces the Americans on Thursday, has won only once in 22 meetings with the USA. If Brazil gets its
second win on Thursday, young Marta will have surely been in the middle of the action. RAGNHILD GULBRANDSEN (Norway, 5 goals).
whose shared the scoring lead with Marta entering Wednesday's semifinal against Germany, has come back from reconstructive knee surgery, but she says that wasn't as hard from coming back from
having a baby last year. Gulbrandsen, whose son is with her in China, says she had all the time she needed to get back in shape after injuring her knee. She didn't have that luxury with an infant
to look after. CRISTIANE (Brazil, 4 goals).
Everyone knows Marta, but the left-footed Cristiane has been equally spectacular at the Women's
World Cup. The 22-year-old Cristiane scored two goals in Brazil's 4-0 win over China in group play, and her late winner beat Australia, 3-2, in the quarterfinals. Like Marta, Cristiane learned
soccer in the streets and idolized Ronaldo. She also moved to Europe to continue her career. She currently plays for Wolfsburg. RENATE LINGOR
(Germany, 4 goals).
The 32-year-old Lingor is best known for her skills as a playmaker -- she set up the first goal in Germany's 3-0 win over the USA in the 2003 Women's World Cup semifinals
and the golden goal in the 2-1 win over Sweden in the finals -- but she has four goals at the 2007 Women's World Cup. She got off to a sensational start, scoring twice in Germany's 11-0 win over
Argentina in their opener. She added goals in Germany's 2-0 win over Japan in the Group A finale and its 3-0 victory over North Korea in the quarterfinals. LISA DE VANNA (Australia, 4 goals).
The 22-year-old De Vanna was the Matildas' secret weapon, coming off the bench with great success. The speedster scored twice in Australia's 4-1 win
over Ghana in their opener and added a 20-yard strike in the 1-1 tie with Norway that proved critical in the Matildas' advancement to the quarterfinals, where she also scored against Brazil.
KELLY SMITH (England, 4 goals).
Smith, whose long career in the USA began when she attended Seton Hall University, drew headlines when she took off
her shoe and kissed each time she scored against Japan in a 2-2 draw in their opening game. The English media loved Smith, who brought much-needed coverage of the women's game back home in England,
but Germany coach Silvia Neid didn't like the celebration. "If I had been the referee," she said, "I would have shown her a yellow card and then the red card." BIRGIT PRINZ (Germany, 4 goals).
Prinz became the all-time leading scorer in Women's World Cup history when she scored her 13th career in Germany's 2-0 win over Japan to
close out play in Group A. Prinz needed only 59 minutes to complete a hat trick in the opening game, a 11-0 win over Argentina. Prinz, a three-time winner of FIFA's Women's Player of the Year
award, has now scored in all four World Cups in which she's played. ABBY WAMBACH (USA, 4 goals).
goals give her 81 goals in 100 games, a better strike rate than other U.S. greats like Mia Hamm (158 goals in 275 games) and Michelle Akers (105 goals in 136 games). Wambach's flick header helped
set up the only goal in the USA's 1-0 win over Nigeria that earned it a spot in the knockout phase.