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BRISBANE: Brazil’s Ary Borges announced herself on soccer’s biggest stage with a hat trick of goals and an assist in her Women’s World Cup debut against Panama.

Her next challenge will come Saturday against France in Group F.

After scoring two first-half goals against Panama, Borges was poised for a hat trick when she received a cross in the penalty area from teammate Debinha. Instead of shooting, she selflessly back-heeled the ball to Bia Zaneratto to set up an early contender for goal of the tournament.

While viewers gasped in awe, those who know Borges were impressed but not surprised by this act of improvization.

“It’s just her incredible ability to understand scenarios and her IQ in the moments,” Beverly Yanez, assistant coach at Borges’ club, Racing Louisville FC, said.

Borges’ arrival on the scene comes at a significant time for her country as Marta, Brazil’s greatest female footballer, plays in her sixth and final World Cup. Although Marta is irreplaceable, the nation is searching for young players who possess similar qualities.

It’s “her smoothness, her flair, her ability to be good in the air, her ability to see different passes or ability to get shots on goal,” Yanez said of Borges’ complete skillset. “She has all the attributes to be one of the best players in the world.”

The 23-year-old Borges is the first Brazilian to score a hat trick in her Women’s World Cup debut and is the youngest Brazilian to record a hat trick in a Women’s World Cup. After her work was done against Panama on Monday, Borges was replaced by Marta in the 75th minute.

The substitution felt fitting, with a legend going on in place of a rising star.

Marta, whose 17 World Cup goals are a record for women or men, inspired countless young players with her joyful style of play. Borges is beginning to show some of the same qualities.

“Ary is a sensational person and a joy for the group for who she is and how she plays,” teammate and defender Lauren Leal said.

This joy and emotion were on full display when Borges fell to her knees in tears immediately after scoring her first World Cup goal.

“When I scored the first goal, I remembered my journey to get there at that moment,” Borges said.

The journey began in São Luís, Maranhão, a city in northeast Brazil. She moved to São Paulo at age 10 and began her professional career with Palmeiras. In December 2022, Borges signed with Racing Louisville FC.

She made her Brazil debut on Sept. 17, 2021. In her 30 appearances for the national team, she has scored eight goals.

As Borges prepares for the remainder of the tournament, Yanez echoed the enthusiasm of many of Borges’ new fans.

“I’m excited to see where she grows … and what the young girls and young boys are going to look at when they think of Ary,” Yanez said.

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