Germany beat Canada 2-1 at women's World Cup

09:42, June 27, 2011      

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Players of Germany pose for photograph before the first stage Group A match between Germany and Canada at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, capital of Germany, June 26, 2011. (Xinhua/Ding Xu)

Germany got off to an expectedly good start in defense of their World Cup title on Sunday when they beat Canada 2-1 in their first group game.

Kerstin Garefrekes and Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi scored for the host nation in front of 74,000 spectators. Christine Sinclair, who played most of the second half with a broken nose, scored for Canada with a free kick with eight minutes to go.

Germany attacked from the start of the Group A game, posing trouble for the Canadian defense with the first corner kick in the second minute. In the sixth minute, Sinclair should have scored for Canada against the run of play, but she fired over the bar with only Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to beat.

Kerstin Garefrekes scored the opener in the 10th minute, assisted by fullback Babett Peter. After a throw-in, Peter got free down the left flank and floated a cross to the back post. Garefrekes was able to rise above her defender and head the ball across the face of goal, leaving Erin McLeod wrong-footed as she failed to stop the shot.

Germany doubled their lead at the end of the first half, thanks to some very poor defending and a good finish by Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, assisted by Garefrekes. Canada attempted to execute an offside trap, but Marie-Eve Nault failed to step up with her teammates, allowing Okoyino da Mbabi to stay onside and get free on goal before she finished easily.

Canada played well in the first half, matching Germany throughout the period, but their defense positioning ultimately let them down. Nault was particularly poor, while Kaylyn Kyle wasn 't great either. Both were substituted off and the changes didn't help much. While Germany didn't score again, they were actually considerably better for most of the second half and simply failed to finish their chances.

In the 56th minute, the legendary Birgit Prinz was subbed off for 20-year-old starlet Alexandra Popp, who played brilliantly for the rest of the game. She grazed the crossbar with a fantastic shot in the 64th minute and it seemed as if every single one of her touches in the attacking third was a positive one.

A couple of minutes after that crossbar hit, Popp played through Garefrekes in the box, who had the ball at her feet two yards from goal with an empty net in front of her. Improbably, she skied the ball over the crossbar, making one of the worst misses anyone will ever see at any level of football anywhere in the world. A few minutes later, in the 77th minute, Simone Laudehr had yet another near-miss for Germany, striking the crossbar with a great shot from 25 yards out.

In the 82nd minute, Canada got back into the match despite being significantly outplayed for the duration of the second half. Christine Sinclair drew a foul and a yellow card on Laudehr 25 yards away from goal, then stepped up to take the free kick. She hit an absolutely brilliant curling dead ball shot, beating Nadine Angerer and breaking Germany's over 600 minute long shutout streak in the World Cup.

However, Canada would not find another goal. Their best opportunity came in the 87th minute when Emily Zurrer found herself all alone in the penalty area with plenty of space, but she took a poor touch and the ball went out harmlessly for a goal kick. That would be the last great opportunity of the match, and Germany walked away satisfied with three points and a win in front of their home fans.

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