Germany stun USA to reach final against Sweden
PORTLAND: Kerstin Garefrekes scored on an uncontested header early as Germany stunned the defending World Cup champions USA 3-0 Sunday to reach the 2003 Women’s World Cup final.
Maren Meinert and Birgit Prinz struck in the 91st and 93rd minutes to ice the victory. “I am so happy that we won,” said Germany’s goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg. “For most players it was a great match and I am happy that we still have one match left.”
Germany will play in the tournament final on October 12 in Los Angeles against Sweden which beat Canada 2-1 in the other semi. Germany had not been in a Women’s World Cup semi-final since 1995 and was determined to make it count. And count it did as the Europeans shocked the US with an early goal off a corner kick.
Poor cover by American captain Julie Foudy on the set play allowed Garefrekes to put an uncontested header past netminder Briana Scurry in the 18th minute off service from Renate Lingor. “It was a great game,” said Tina Theune-Meyer coach of Germany, the current European champions. “Both teams played on a high level and it was awesome atmosphere. “I had a good feeling all day. Silke had an amazing match and all our players were very disciplined and everyone tried to do something with the ball.”
Boasting a 12-3-2 all-time edge against the Germans, the Americans were the favourites heading into the semi-final. And they defeated their semi-final foe 1-0 in January at the Four Nations Tournament. But in the end the Americans had nothing to show for their home-field advantage and a multi-million dollar training programme which is the envy of other programmes the world over.
On Sunday, the hopes for a second-straight title were dashed as Germany exposed the American flaws and their failure to convert chances. Theune-Meyer used the same 11 players throughout the game. She praised the chemistry of her starting lineup. “I had the feeling that the whole team was one team, so I didn’t have to change anything,” said Theune-Meyer. “That’s why we played the whole time with 11 players.”
US coach April Heinrichs tried to downplay the significance of the loss saying the match was good for women’s soccer. “We will be able to deal with this loss,” said Heinrichs. “because that was the best game ever played in women’s football.” The US pressed hard for the rest of the match but was unable to capitalize on German errors.
Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm had sure chances at goal that were smothered by goalkeeper Rottenberg. Rottenberg arguably won it for Germany. Making save after save. She often was the only defence against the American attack. —AFP