Holders Germany qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ quarter-finals, but they needed a 54th-minute Simone Laudehr goal to earn the win and end a determined Nigeria's campaign in front of a noisy, sold-out crowd in Frankfurt.
Germany’s victory also confirmed France’s progression and Canada’s elimination, following a 4-0 victory for the former over the latter earlier in the evening in Bochum.
Nigeria went into their second group match knowing defeat would end their tournament ambitions, and indeed Germany got little return out of the well-organised Africans for periods of the match.
The Europeans made an early statement of intent as Birgit Prinz set Simone Laudehr free, but goalkeeper Precious Dede reacted quickly to make the save. The hosts dominated possession early and Kim Kulig’s shot from outside the penalty area again called the Nigeria No1 into action.
The underdogs came alive in the attacking third midway through the half, with Rita Chikwelu stealing possession in midfield, but Sarah Michael was unable to deliver a precise square ball with the retreating German defence stretched.
Nigeria were now gaining in confidence, while the home side were occasionally guilty of sloppy passing, much to the chagrin of Silvia Neid, who sometimes cut an animated presence on the sideline. The Germany coach’s mood would not have improved just past the half-hour mark as midfielder Melanie Behringer was forced to leave the field with what appeared to be a serious injury. Behringer’s misfortune allowed a hero of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2010, Alexandra Popp, to enter the fray.
The half concluded with Nigerian starlet Ebere Orji firing an effort from 18 metres, which missed the goal by just a metre or so.
The home side’s concerns were eased nine minutes into the second half as the deadlock was finally broken. Defensive midfielder Simone Laudehr collected a deserved reward for a hard-working display after thrashing home a loose ball from 12 metres, after Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi’s free-kick had caused havoc in the penalty area.
Nigeria, to their credit, retained their composure and Germany often only caused danger with long-range efforts at set-pieces. Kulig was again notable for her shooting from distance, though she was unable to trouble Dede.
Player of the match: Annike Krahn