Monday, October 01, 2007

Germany Outlasts Brazil In Women’s World Cup Final

Match reports by du Nord reader Adam

(Note: USA third place match report below)

Germany 2-0 Brazil

Before their clash with Germany in the final of the Women’s World Cup, the Brazilians danced and sang in the tunnel leading to the field, confident that they’d be able to crack the tough German defense and steal the crown from the reigning champions. It seemed the pre-game celebration was warranted, too, as Brazil possessed most of the ball in the first half and only allowed the Germans two good chances on goal.

The Germans looked like they might strike first in the 5th minute when midfielder Kerstin Garefrekes found space inside Brazil’s box, but she smacked her shot into the side netting. The team’s other good chance came when Sandra Smisek—unmarked because the Brazilian defenders thought she was offside—curled a shot just over the Brazilian goal.

It was Brazil’s chances on goal in the first half that looked far more dangerous. Formiga missed just wide after German goalie Nadine Angerer spilled the ball at her feet, and Daniela slammed a volley off the post.

The first half ended scoreless, and even though the Germans couldn’t find their typical offensive rhythm, the defense kept Brazil’s scoring duo, Marta and Cristiane, relatively quiet.

Only 7 minutes after halftime, it was clear Germany had found the momentum it lacked in the first half. Kerstin Stegemann hit a long through ball toward the Brazilian penalty box. Smisek collected the ball and eluded her defender, hitting a back pass to an on-rushing Birgit Prinz. Making weak contact with the ball, Prinz managed to slip the ball under Brazil’s keeper, Andreia.

The goal seemed to zap some of Brazil’s composure. They still attacked, but passes weren’t as crisp, and players, bickering with one another, didn’t run down loose balls quite as hard as before. A sliver of hope came when Brazil was awarded a penalty kick with about 25 minutes left to play. Linda Bresonik brought down Cristiane in the German box and the tournament’s leading scorer, Marta, stepped up to take the PK. Diving to her right, Angerer guessed correctly and kept Marta’s shot out of the goal. Minutes later, Angerer came up big again, tipping Daniela’s free kick into the post.

If missing a PK didn’t sink the Brazilians, Germany’s second goal, coming with about 5 minutes left to play, certainly did. Renate Lingor’s corner kick found an unmarked Simone Laudehr in front of the Brazilian goal. Laudehr slammed her header past Andreia, ensuring that Germany would become the only team in Women’s World Cup history to win back-to-back titles.

Ultimately, Brazil became another casualty to Germany’s air tight defense and patient offense. The defense, anchored by Angerer, didn’t allow a single goal in the tournament. And while the German offense, led by Prinz, might not be as flashy or fancy as Brazil’s, the players proved that efficiency in front of goal is just as important as creativity.

US Rebound Against Norway In Third Place Match

USA 4-1 Norway

They might have been a game too late, but the US gave a dominant performance in the consolation match, cruising to a 4-1 victory against a strong Norwegian side.

From the start, the US looked eager to prove its semifinal loss and the controversy surrounding Hope Solo hadn’t sunk the team. Kristine Lilly ran the Norwegians to distraction, hitting a shot over the bar with 3 minutes gone and sliding a dangerous pass across the goalmouth minutes later.

In the midfield, Aly Wagner replaced the suspended Shannon Boxx. Wagner’s playmaking ability made an immediate impact for the US in the middle of the park. The defense constantly played the ball to her feet and allowed her to connect with the offense, rather than slamming long balls up to Abby Wambach and effectively taking the midfield out of the match. Lori Chalupny looked dangerous throughout first half as well, hitting a screamer just wide in the 11th minute.

The United States, looking infinitely more confident on the ball, finally struck first when Wambach back-heeled a Chalupny shot past Norwegian keeper Bente Nordby.

It seemed Norway had pulled a goal back just before halftime when Scurry came out to punch a cross and missed the ball completely, hitting Chalupny instead. But Ragnhild Gulbrandsen’s header was called back due to offside.

Almost immediately after halftime, Wambach scored her 6th goal of the world cup, knocking in a ball that deflected off the post. The star striker had a hand in the USA’s 3rd goal as well, beating her defender to the end line and swinging in a cross that bounced around inside the goal box. A Norwegian defender attempted to clear the ball, but Chalupny redirected it into the goal.

For the final US goal, Lindsay Tarpley, fresh off the US bench, pounced on a loose ball and hit two shots right at Norway’s goalie. On the last shot, Nordby spilled the ball, and Heather O’Reilly lifted her shot over the lunging keeper.

Norway’s leading scorer, tied with Wambach at 6 goals in the competition, Gulbrandsen sent a looping header over Scurry and pulled a goal back for Norway.

It was nice to see the US players smiling and enjoying themselves on the field after all the turmoil surrounding the semifinal match. It was equally rewarding to see Greg Ryan finally use his bench. Not only did he start Wagner and use Tarpley in the second half, but, in place of the injured Kate Markgraf, Ryan gave Marian Dalmy her first national team start—and the inexperienced defender stayed surprisingly composed for the entire match.

Germany might have made history by winning back-to-back World Cup titles, but the US made a little history of its own. With the victory over Norway, the Americans became the only team in Women’s World Cup history to finish in the top three at every tournament.

All the Team USA photos, video & audio and words are right here at the official team site.


Blogger mamacita chilena said...

Where was this kind of play for the rest of the World Cup? Tarpley could've been utilized so much more, she's really good but she didn't get much of a chance to shine (although I may be partial because she's from a nearby highschool to the one I went to).

And why put Bri Scurry in the goal to punish Hope Solo. I think it was pretty clear after the Brazil game that Bri is past her prime (and I don't mean that offensively, I am a huge Bri fan). So the coach cares more about punishment than winning?!? This isn't high school, this is the WORLD CUP. Ridiculous. Off with his head.

I was so dissapointed with this whole thing. Although that might be because the only game I watched was U.S. v. Brazil

6:36 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

Did Bri make the same comments three years ago about one of her teammates?

U.S. goalkeeper Scurry out to make amends

IRAKLION, Greece (AP) -- There's no doubt in Briana Scurry's mind. If she had been the starting goalkeeper four years ago in Sydney, the U.S. women's soccer team would have won the gold medal.

"I put myself into that entire game," she said. "And I've always felt -- and I still feel -- that if I were playing, we would have won."

8:18 PM  

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