Germany and France faced each other in the final Group A match at the Stadion im Borussia-Park, Moenchengladbach today. Both sides were already through to the quarterfinals, but were still eager to finish top of the group. Germany had the better end and registered a 4-2 win against France.
The match started off on a leisurely pace as both teams needed some to time to find their playing rhythm. The Germans seemed to be in control after ten minutes with several good approaches in midfield.
The partisan German crowd almost had a reason to cheer in the 13th minute, when a chip into the box found an unmarked Kerstin Garefrekes in front of French keeper Berangere Sapowicz. But Garefrekes was in an offside position and referee Kirsi Heikkinen correctly blew the whistle.
The match promised a lot of entertainment, but the first half was dominated by intense midfield action and lacked the pace one would have expected. Both teams were on par and it needed a set-piece to give the match a boost.
France gave away a free kick to the Germans in the 25th minute. Babett Peter took the free kick and her ball into the French box was met by a Kerstin Garefrekes header. Garefrekes header went past a surprised Sapowicz to give Germany the lead.
The goal gave the Germans the needed impulse to increase the pressure on the French team and they were awarded once again moments later. Simone Laudehr utilized her pace and delivered a well-timed cross from the left flank to the danger area. Germany striker Inka Grings took her chance and nodded the ball into the net in the 32nd minute to make it 2-0 for the hosts.
The “L’Equipe tricolor” had no proper answer to the German dominance in the remaining minutes of the first half and the match went into the half-time with a 2-0 lead for the defending champions.
France made two changes at the beginning of the second half, while coach Bruno Bini brought on Camille Abily and Marie-Laure Delie. The changes helped the French team to create some pressure, as Bini’s side looked the better team in the early minutes of the second half.
Bini’s move paid off in the 56th minute, when substitute Delie headed in a corner from the right side into the German net to pull one back.
Germany almost restore the margin 60th minute through a well-taken free kick by Inka Grings. But Grings’ shot was well saved by the French keeper Berangere Sapowicz.
Sapowicz moved into the centre of attention just five minutes later, when Germany’s Inka Grings played a great through ball to her teammate Fatmire Bajramaj. Sapowicz brought down the German attacker in the box with a serious foul to concede a red card and a penalty against her team.
Inka Grings took the penalty and fired a powerful shot to the right corner of the goal to make it 3-1 for Germany in the 68th minute.
But France replied quickly despite being one player down and scored a second goal in the 72nd minute. A corner from the left side found Laura Georges, who headed the ball past Germany keeper Nadine Angerer.
The match showed all facets of the beautiful game to the delight of the spectators, although the German fans would have preferred a less gripping evening.
Inka Grings almost scored a fourth German goal, but her direct free kick missed the target by a whisker in the 76th minute. The Germans increased the pressure and were denied another goal one minute later, when Fatmire Bajramaj volleyed a cross from the right side on-target just to see it saved on the goal line by a French defender. The rebound was quickly taken by the Germans and it hit the crossbar before the ball went out.
But Germany finally managed to make it 4-2 in the 89th minute to the delight of the German fans. Substitute Alexandra Popp delivered a perfect cross from the left flank and Inka Grings headed it towards an unmarked Celia Okoyino da Mbabi. Da Mbabi made no mistake and fired the ball into the French goal.
Group A winners Germany will take on Japan in the quarterfinals on Saturday, while France will face England in their match at Leverkusen.
Group A – Matchday 9
France 2-4 Germany
0-1 Kerstin GAREFREKES (25′)
0-2 Inka Grings ()
1-2 Marie-Laure DELIE (56′)
1-3 Inka Grings (68′. pen)
2-3 Laura Georges (72′)
2-4 Celia Okoyino da Mbabi (89′)
Stadion im Borussia-Park Moenchengladbach
16-Berangere SAPOWICZ; 2-Wendie RENARD, 4-Laura GEORGES, 11-Laure; 3-Laure BOULLEAU, 6-Sandrine SOUBEYRAND [C], 14-Louisa NECIB (46′ 10-Camille ABILY), 15-Elise BUSSAGLIA; 9-Eugenie LE SOMMER (68′ 1-Celine DEVILLE), 17-Gaetane THINEY, 12-Elodie THOMIS (46′ 18-Marie-Laure DELIE)
5-Ophelie MEILLEROUX 7-Corine FRANCO, 8-Sonia BOMPASTOR, 13-Caroline PIZZALA, 19-Sandrine BRETIGNY, 20-Sabrina VIGUIER, 21-Laetitia PHILIPPE
1-Nadine ANGERER; 4-Babett PETER, 3-Saskia BARTUSIAK, 5-Annike KRAHN (78′ 11-Alexandra POPP), 2-Bianca SCHMIDT; 6-Simone LAUDEHR (46′ 17-Ariane HINGST), 20-Lena GOESSLING; 18-Kerstin GAREFREKES [C], 19-Fatmire BAJRAMAJ; 13-Celia OKOYINO DA MBABI; 8-Inka GRINGS
7-Melanie BEHRINGER, 9-Birgit PRINZ, 10-Linda BRESONIK, 12-Ursula HOLL, 14-Kim KULIG, 15-Verena FAISST, 16-Martina MUELLER, 21-Almuth SCHULT
Kirsi HEIKKINEN (FIN)
Tonja PAAVOLA (FIN), Anu JOKELA (FIN)
17′ Lena GOESSLING (Germany)
40′ Elise BUSSAGLIA (France)
41′ Laura GEORGES (France)
59′ Wendie RENARD (France)
82′ Fatmire BAJRAMAJ (Germany)
65′ Berangere SAPOWICZ (France)