OTTAWA: Germany and the US, the top two teams in the FIFA rankings, set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash in the Women’s World Cup on Friday by beating France and China respectively.
Top-ranked Germany, winners in 2003 and 2007, won a dramatic penalty shoot-out 5-4 to break French hearts after the tie ended 1-1 after 120 minutes in Montreal.
And the second-ranked Americans, champions in 1991 and 1999, overpowered China in front of a crowd of just over 24,000 in Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium 1-0 thanks to a second-half goal from captain Carli Lloyd.
“The confidence was slowly building and I would say that after this game it really helped us,” said Lloyd. “It was just great, the more pressure we put China under, the more they coughed up the ball up. We just kept our foot down on the pedal and that was just what we needed. It’s what we needed and we’re going to be flying in the next game.”
The ease with which the Americans won was in contrast to Germany. The world’s top team struggled against third-ranked France and played 30 minutes of extra time and a tense penalty shoot-out in Montreal.
Louisa Necib, dubbed the “Female Zidane” of the French women’s game, could only rue a missed chance to score after just 49 seconds, before she finally nailed the opener in the 64th minute. “We were better, we dominated and they’re going to play the semi-final,” said Necib. “It’s always the same feeling when you lose — disappointment.”
Celia Sasic levelled for Germany with a penalty six minutes from time, and in extra-time substitute Gaetane Thiney wasted a late chance to put France into the last four for the second straight time.
Germany captain Nadine Angerer was the player of the day as the goalkeeper saved 20-year-old substitute Claire Lavogez’s final penalty in the shoot-out. “We’re extremely elated, full of adrenaline right now,” said the 36-year-old former world player of the year, who was part of the triumphs in 2003 and 2007. “It was hard work. We had to fight really hard and we were rewarded.”
Germany coach Silvia Neid admitted it was a tough game. “We had to run after it and France were really ahead of us in the first half. But in the second half we really fought hard,” she said. “Our team has proven their character.”
The sides will take each other on Tuesday in Montreal for a place in the final.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2015.
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