Germans profit from Marta's misery
© Foto-net

Marta proved the unlikeliest of FIFA Women's World Cup villains in Shanghai as Germany made history by completing the first successful title defence in the tournament's history.

Birgit Prinz and Simone Laudehr scored the all-important goals but it was Nadine Angerer who emerged as the German hero, saving a Marta penalty that would have brought Brazil level, while in the process preserving her unblemished record of six successive clean sheets at China 2007.

The opening exchanges might have been tentative, with the sides' mutual respect clearly evident, but an evenly-matched contest sparked into life as early as the fifth minute when Marta tested Angerer at one end and, within seconds, Kerstin Garerfrekes burst through at the other to fire into the side-netting.

Brazil should, in fact, have taken the lead three minutes later when Formiga snatched at a superb chance, poking the ball wide after Angerer had uncharacteristically spilled a Daniela free-kick. The game ebbed and flowed throughout, however, and Sandra Smisek spurned an opportunity every bit as glaring soon after, scooping over from 14 yards after springing Brazil's offside trap.

Daniela was the next to try her luck, and the Brazilian No11 could certainly not have gone any closer with a sensational, sweetly-struck 20-yard volley that came crashing back off the inside of the post. However, Germany are nothing if not resilient and, having weathered a storm of Brazilian attacks as half-time drew close, they emerged to strike with deadly and oh so predictable precision.

Smisek, an unsung hero of their triumphant China 2007 campaign, fashioned the goal with a clever lay-off to Prinz, and although the big striker's shot was not the cleanest or most powerful she has ever struck, it contained enough zip to squirm under Andreia's body into the net.

A goal down within six minutes of the restart, Brazil initially struggled to respond, and they might have fallen further behind just seven minutes later when Annike Krahn headed wide from all eight yards when Renate Lingor's superbly delivered corner merited a better connection.

Then, however, almost out of nothing, Brazil were handed what seemed like a route back into this match when Australian referee Tammy Ogston correctly awarded a penalty for Linda Bresonik's trip on Cristiane. Marta, the darling of the Chinese fans, stepped up to take the kick, but with everyone expecting the net to bulge, Angerer dived low to her right to save the Brazilian's timid effort.

The stop took the German keeper ever closer to breaking Walter Zenga's FIFA World Cup record of 517 minutes without conceding, and it was fitting that she should surpass that milestone on the very second that she again sprung across goal to push away a goalbound 30-yard free-kick from Daniela.

The Canarinha midfielder threw up her arms in exasperation and, with just four minutes remaining to save their FIFA Women's World Cup dream, Brazilian hearts were well and truly broken when Simone Laudehr rose to bullet home another inch-perfect Lingor corner.

Player of the Match: Nadine Angerer (GER)