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Germany, France shine amid opening jubilation

Kerstin Garefrekes, right, celebrates with Linda Bresonik after scoring the opening goal in Germany’s 2-1 victory over Canada.

Associated Press

Kerstin Garefrekes, right, celebrates with Linda Bresonik after scoring the opening goal in Germany’s 2-1 victory over Canada.

Today's schedule
Group When TV Matchup
3 B 9 a.m. ESPN Japan vs. New Zealand
4 B noon ESPN Mexico vs. England
United States schedule, Group C
When TV Matchup
6 12:15 p.m. Tuesday ESPN U.S. vs. North Korea
14 noon Saturday ESPN U.S. vs. Colombia
22 2:45 p.m. July 6 ESPN Sweden vs. U.S.


SINSHEIM, Germany — On a great day for women's soccer, it was a good day for Europe's teams.

The World Cup started Sunday with two stadiums overflowing with goodwill, color and the cheers of nearly 100,000 fans. And there were four goals, including one stunner.

Germany, the two-time defending champion, survived opening-game jitters to beat Canada 2-1 in Berlin and showed that the hosts will be the team to beat.

"It is fantastic," said Germany's No. 1 fan in the stands, Chancellor Angela Merkel.

France won the opener against Nigeria 1-0 in Sinsheim to leave the continental neighbors in charge of Group A. The United States begins play in the 16-team tournament Tuesday, facing North Korea in Group C in Dresden.

Beyond the games, the upbeat spirit of the women's game stood out. The atmosphere approached that of the men's 2006 World Cup — also in Germany — even if the action rarely did.

One exception came at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Canada's Christine Sinclair, playing with a broken nose for most of the second half, highlighted the day with a stunning, perfectly curled free kick in the 82nd minute. That briefly gave Canada hope, but Germany survived on grit.

"The doctors told me her nose was broken, but she asked me to let her play," Canada coach Carolina Morace said. "I asked if it would be dangerous, but Christine is a smart player — she knows what she can do and what she can't do."

It was the first goal Germany had conceded in the World Cup since 2003.

At the site of the men's final five years ago, hundreds of German flags came out as Kerstin Garefrekes scored Germany's first goal in the 10th minute, and the home team support continued the rest of the evening amid a sellout crowd of 73,680.

"The fans were great," Germany coach Silvia Neid said. "People had the feeling it could be getting close, and they really got behind us. I thought it was a brilliant reaction."

Meanwhile, there was hardly an empty seat as Nigeria and France ushered in the tournament before 25,475 fans at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

France striker Marie-Laure Delie scored the first goal of the tournament in a scrappy goalmouth scramble, controlling a low cross and stabbing the ball home in the 56th minute.

"We have three points in our pocket," French coach Bruno Bini said, "and no one can take them away from us."

Standings

Top two in each group advance

GROUP A

GP W D L GF GA Pts

Germany 1 1 0 0 2 1 3

France 1 1 0 0 1 0 3

Canada 1 0 0 1 1 2 0

Nigeria 1 0 0 1 0 1 0

Germany, France shine amid opening jubilation 06/26/11 [Last modified: Sunday, June 26, 2011 7:13pm]
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