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Football - 26. June 2011.

Hosts on a high, France on target

THE DAY REPLAYED – The sixth FIFA Women’s World Cup is finally under way, with Sunday’s two opening games producing two tight scorelines and no shortage of quality football. A crowd of 73,680 flocked to the Olympiastadion in Berlin to watch the hosts edge out Canada in an exciting official Opening Match that produced great goals and a nailbiting conclusion.The main event was preceded by a spectacular crowd mosaic in the colours of the German flag.

The first game of the tournament took place in Sinsheim just hours earlier, with France overcoming the German heatwave to complete the tightest of wins over Nigeria and draw first blood in Group A.

Nigeria 0-1 France
Germany 2-1 Canada

Goal of the day
Christine Sinclair, 82, (Germany-Canada)
Though the Canadian captain missed a great chance only six minutes in and barely figured thereafter, she brought her class to bear in the closing stages, sending a classy free-kick into the top corner. Sinclair’s late strike ensured a nervy finale for the hosts and was made even more memorable by the fact she had broken her nose earlier in the game.

Memorable moments
No clean sheet for Nadine
Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer went through the whole of China 2007 without conceding, a record she looked set to extend until Sinclair’s superb set-piece. In all, Angerer had gone 622 minutes without letting in a FIFA Women’s World Cup goal. An even higher total, 679 minutes, had elapsed since the Germans last conceded in the competition - against Sweden in the final at USA 2003, when Silke Rottenberg was between the posts

And the band played on
Nigeria’s enthusiastic posse of supporters did not let the Super Falcons’ seventh defeat in their last eight FIFA Women’s World Cup matches get them down, bringing the stands to life with their blaring trumpets and booming drums.

The sun has got his hat on, at last
The weather forecasters got it spot on as the grey skies, spitting rain and cool temperatures of Saturday gave way to much more pleasant conditions on Sunday. The players may not have appreciated the ten-degree rise in temperatures but the fans certainly welcomed summer’s long-awaited arrival.

The Gallic goal machine
The Nigerians made life hard for France in Sinsheim, creating few chances but keeping things very tight at the back. It takes a lot to keep Marie-Laure Delie quiet, however, as her record of 22 goals in 21 games indicates. The Montpellier striker it was who unlocked the Nigerian rearguard, making a clever run into the box and collecting a pass from the right before slotting home from six yards out.

The stat
3 - The number of FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in which Germany’s Kerstin Garefrekes has now scored, a record made even more notable by the fact she has been on the scoresheet in each of her side’s last three opening matches. On target today against Canada, she also netted against the Canucks in the 4-1 win that marked the start of Germany’s campaign at USA 2003 and was in among the goals again in their opener at China 2007, an 11-0 humbling of Argentina. The only player who can trump that record is team-mate Birgit Prinz, who has scored in four opening matches for Germany, a record the great striker failed to extend today in what was also the 150th game in the tournament’s history.

The quotes
"The spectators were amazing! The people felt that it could get tight for us at the end. The whole crowed stood behind us and the players felt that too," Silvia Neid, Germany coach.

“That was a real physical challenge, though we expected it because Nigeria are a very powerful team. We suffered a lot with the heat too because it’s been a lot colder in the last few days,” Elise Bussaglia, France midfielder.

Next up
Monday, 27 June 2011

Japan-New Zealand, 15.00 (CET), Bochum
Mexico-England, 18.00 (CET) WolfsburgMLI - Groups known for FIBA Africa Championship Women
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