Back to Group A for the second game of the group stage.
France 4, Canada 0
D'OH! Canada! Needing a win to stay alive, Canada got absolutely pounded by France. I was expecting a close game, not a goal explosion. Props to Christine Sinclair, who had her nose broken against Germany, playing with a mask on.
Germany 1, Nigeria 0
Frankfurt, hometown of Birgit Prinz. The Super Falcons lost to Germany 8-0 in November, and perhaps the Germans were overconfident. I expected Nigeria to be fast and physical, but they were more organized than I've seen in previous Cup games. The combination proved bothersome to the Germans.
3' - Long ball from midfield is headed on by F Birgit Prinz at 30 yds, bounces just inside the box. MF Simone Laudehr is chasing after the ball, running even with a D Osinachi Ohale. Ball bounces again, and G Precious Dede has come out to the edge of the 6 yd box. Communication breakdown? Ohale slows up a bit, expecting Dede to get to the ball, but Dede isn't quite as aggressive as needed - she drops to her knees, waiting for the ball. Laudehr is able to fend off Ohale's attempt to shield, and flicks a foot out, but the ball bounces off Dede. The ball gets cleared to the 18, where another Nigerian goes after it, but loses a challenge to MF Melanie Behringer, who turns and shoots from 20 yds. It's blocked at the 6, though.
13' - LB Babett Peter chests Dede's goal kick down on Ger side of midfield, passes up to Behringer across the center line, makes an overlapping run and gets the ball back. She passes in to Prinz, who centers it to MF Célia Okoyino da Mbabi, just outside the box. Da Mbabi passes back to MF Kim Kulig, who shoots from 29 yds. It's headed for the right post, but Dede dives over and grabs it 3 yds out. Announcer Julie Foudy notices that Kersten Garefrekes was wide open on the right.
14' - Garefrekes sends a pass from center to da Mbabi on the left behind the Nigerian D just inside the 18. Flag is up, offsides. Replay shows it wasn't.
22' - MF Rita Chikwelu steps in front of a German and steals the ball to the right of the circle on Ger side. She dribbles forward 10 yds and passes right to F Sarah Michael, who shoots/crosses? a step after crossing the 18. It's not a very good shot or cross, as no Nigerian is in the center, where G Nadine Angerer falls on it at the 6.
24' - Laudehr chases after a through ball near the right corner. After she kicks it over the end line, she protests to the asst ref, motioning that she was pushed, then holding her arms out "where's the foul call?" Then she turns to the ref with the pushing motion. Replay shows she did get shoved. There will be many instances of Nigerian physical play, not always called a foul, and sometimes a foul called that might have warranted a yellow.
30' - Nigerian free kick from the left, 30 yds from the end line. Ball rolled to D Helen Ukaonu, who takes a shot. It bounces at the six and right to Angerer. No Nigerians made a near post run.
39' - Peter, on the left wing going for a bouncing 50-50 ball, gets a foot on it before the Nigerian and starts to bring it down. Nigerian's raised foot catches her in the knee, and she goes down. No call. This ref needs to see the eye doctor.
40' Garefrekes dribbles the ball past Ukaonu, who steps into her path shoving with an extended arm, and on the followthrough, her hand catches Garefrekes in the face. Foul called, could have been a yellow. Free kick 34 yds out, Kulig shoots, and Dede goes to her knees to save near the right post.
45' - Nigerian free kick from right sideline headed out by Ger. MF Ebere Orji, 24 yds out in the center, sort of settles the ball - it deflects off her foot into her chest, then down - and she has to shoot immediately as a German charges her. Missed wide left.
No score at the half, and there are some jeering whistles as the teams walk off. For the German team, because they're not up several goals already? Analyst Viola Odebrecht, former German player, says coach Silvia Neid was likely screaming at them in the locker room.
US news: MF Lori Lindsey might get the start against Columbia (Sat at noon EDT), replacing Carli Lloyd or Shannon Boxx (I think the latter).
51' - F Alexandra Popp jumps up to chest the ball and gets nailed in the back of the head by the elbow of Ohale, who's late getting there and makes sure there's contact. Finally the yellow card comes out.
52' - Sub a bit surprising as Inka Grings comes in for Birgit Prinz.
54' - Nigerians pay for their physical play as a foul is called to the left of the box. Da Mbabi takes it, kick goes towards the near post, where Dede saves (? - lot of bodies, hard to tell - replay shows a sliding Orji might have got her foot on it). Ball deflects to center where Grings takes a shot from 10 yds. It's blocked, maybe by a German, and deflects back outside the 6 yd box, where Laudehr onetimes it from 7 yds and scores. GOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL!!!
Other stuff happens. I played soccer tonight, hence the abbreviated recap.
Germany gets the all-important win, but only by a goal. They had 10 shots, 6 on goal. Nigeria 7 shots, with 1 on goal - they lacked a scoring touch. Germany only had 51% of possession. Nigerian speed and physicality had them a bit discombobulated. Kulig also got a yellow for being a little late on a challenge and kicking a Nigerian in the shin, but that was harsh, as no Nigerians were carded for similar kicks. It wasn't like she slid in cleats up.
Here's the shocker: while both France and Germany are through with two wins, France is on top with their goal differential. Germany has to beat them to win the group. Not out of the question, but France did look pretty smooth in their dismantling of Canada and will come in with a lot of confidence.