Germany and England take top, Kiwis draw
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THE DAY REPLAYED The conclusion of Groups A and B at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™ delivered great goals, brought about the end of two long-standing goal droughts and produced a historic achievement for New Zealand. It also confirmed the first two fixtures of this year’s quarter-final line-up: Germany-Japan and England-France.

Results
France 2-4 Germany
Canada 0-1 Nigeria
England 2-0 Japan
New Zealand 2-2 Mexico

Goal of the day
Germany-France, Inka Grings (32nd minute)
In an intense, emotional game which saw four out of six goals originate from headers, it was Inka Grings’ first-half strike that arguably stood out the most. Finishing off a great move by the host nation, the Germany striker, lurking midway inside the France box, lost her marker and powerfully headed home a tremendous whipped cross from the left by midfielder Simone Laudehr. In doing so, she brought a 12-year lean spell at the FIFA Women’s World Cup to an end, her last goal having come against Mexico in 1999, her third in that particular match. On this occasion, too, she was not content with scoring just the one goal, grabbing a second from the penalty spot in the second half.

Memorable moments
The return of Marigol
Another player whose last goal at the tournament had come 12 years before was Mexico’s Maribel Domínguez. Her strike against Brazil was her country’s solitary breakthrough at USA 1999, while this time around her cool first-half finish against New Zealand would turn out to be El Tri’s last goal in the competition.

Leading by example
England coach Hope Powell may not have seen competitive action since the late 1990s, but she showed that she has lost none of her old skills during her charges’ Group C match with Japan. Twice the former attacking midfielder instantly controlled balls that had gone out of play, and indulged in a little crowd-pleasing juggling before heading it back in the direction of smiling Japanese midfielder Aya Miyama, waiting to take the resulting throw-in.

An illuminating performance
Although Nigeria had already been officially eliminated from the competition prior to their final group match against Canada, this fact did not appear to have affected the Africans’ mood. As they made their way from the hotel to the stadium, music, singing and clapping could be heard. The good humour spread to the stands when, in the 73rd minute, the lights went out at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion in Dresden. The ensuing ten-minute delay was brightened up by songs and laughter from the fans. After the restart, the match sparked to life via a goal from Perpetua Nkwocha, who calmly slotted home to win the match for her team.

Seeing red
France goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz had the dubious honour of becoming the first player to be sent off at Germany 2011, bringing down the host nation’s Fatmire Bajramaj for a penalty and a straight red card. She is the third player of her position in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup to be dismissed from the pitch, after Chinese Taipei’s Lin Hui Fang in 1991 and USA’s Briana Scurry in 1995.

Sisters-in-arms
Before and after every game, the Japanese players have displayed a banner with a message thanking fans around the world for their support, following the terrible earthquake that struck the country in March. In a touching gesture, this time their English counterparts showed no hesitation in accompanying their opponents as they carried the sign around the pitch.

The stat
1 –
In a performance brimming with pride, New Zealand, thanks to two goals in the final minutes of their clash with Mexico, picked up their first-ever point at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. While their 1991 and 2007 campaigns saw them lose every single match, Germany 2011 will be remembered for their maiden draw at this level. The Kiwis duly celebrated the achievement by dancing a traditional Haka.

The quote
“It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. The goal was a bit of a fluke! (laughs). I stuck out my leg, and it bounced off me and went in. No, seriously, it was a great pass from Karen Carney. I saw it early and was dying to get on the end of it. I knew that their keeper was a little shorter than those that we’d faced up to now, so I tried a lob - it was fantastic to see it hit the back of the net,” Ellen White, the England forward, on her country’s opening goal against Japan, her first of the tournament.

“I’m proud of my players, who aren’t professionals, let’s remember. They get up extremely early to go to work or university, and still find time to attend training sessions. And then they go and earn a point at the World Cup - for me, they’re heroines,” John Herdman, New Zealand coach.

Next up

Wednesday 6 July
Equatorial Guinea-Brazil, Frankfurt, 18.00 CET
Australia-Norway, Leverkusen, 18.00 CET
Korea DPR-Colombia, Bochum, 20.45 CET
Sweden-USA, Wolfsburg, 20.45 CET