BERLIN - Title holders Germany kicked off
their hunt for an unprecedented third straight women's World Cup
with a nervous 2-1 win over group rivals Canada on Sunday on the
opening day of the tournament.
First half goals from Kerstin Garefrekes and Okoyino da
Mbabi put the hosts ahead before Canada captain Christine
Sinclair cut the deficit late in the game with a well-struck
"We had a good start to the game but started combining badly
towards the end of the first half," Germany coach Silvia Neid
"In the second half we created a lot of chances but somehow
we forgot how to score. Then Canada came back but but we have
now won the game and I am very happy for this start to the
In front of a 73,680 sellout crowd and with German President
Christian Wullf, Chancellor Angela Merkel and FIFA President
Sepp Blatter in the stands of the Olympic Stadium, Germany, who
won the 2007 title without conceding a goal, were initially on
the back foot.
Canada, one of the tournament's dark horses, tried to
sucker-punch them with quick attacks early on but unmarked
Sinclair missed a gilt-edged chance on six minutes, firing wide
from 12 metres.
Germany, who won the 2003 and 2007 tournaments, struck after
12 minutes with Garefrekes, who seconds earlier had failed to
score form close range, rising above her marker to head in a
Babett Peter cross at the far post and wrong-foot keeper Erin
McLeod was kept busy throughout as Canada's midfield caved
in, doing well to snatch the ball off Germany captain Birgit
Prinz as the 33-year-old was about to tap in.
But McLeod stayed far too long on her line when Okoyino da
Mbabi raced clear, giving the striker enough time to slot in
three minutes before the break.
Canada found no way forward in the second half and needed a
a 22-metre curled free-kick from Sinclair to pull one back on 82
minutes as Germany held on for victory.
"It is difficult to keep up with them [Germans]," said
Canada midfielder Sophie Schmidt. "Their size alone, they were
towering over us. I think we did alright. We gave them a run for
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