Sara Daebritz scored Germany's winning goal against Spain
Valenciennes (France) (AFP) - Germany brushed off the absence of injured star player Dzsenifer Marozsan to beat Spain 1-0 on Wednesday and take control of Group B in the women’s World Cup, virtually assuring themselves of missing the rampant United States in the last 16.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Sara Daebritz earned the Germans a hard-fought three points by pouncing three minutes before the break ahead of dithering Spain defender Marta Torrejon, who only had to clear the ball after her goalkeeper Sandra Panos did well to save Alexandra Popp’s header.
“I thought I could get to the ball so I just slid into it, and it was fantastic to score,” Daebritz told German broadcaster ZDF.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side, who will be without Lyon playmaker Marozsan for at least another match after she broke her toe in their opening 1-0 win over China, are almost assured of topping the group.
They are three points clear of Spain and are one better on goal difference, meaning they need a point against bottom side South Africa on Monday to be completely sure of coming out on top.
That would leave whoever finished second below them to face the Americans, who were in ominous form on Tuesday as they racked up a record 13-0 win over Thailand, while the Germans would take on one of the four best third-placed finishers who will make the last 16.
“Our goal was always to win the group, and now we are on the way to doing so. We want to win our third game too,” added Daebritz.
Asked by reporters if watching the USA dismantle Thailand was “extra motivation” for her side to win the group, a smiling Voss-Tecklenburg said “both teams knew they didn’t want play the winners of Group F”.
Second-placed Spain, who were wasteful despite dominating possession and will rue Nahikari Garcia somehow slicing wide when clean through in the 14th minute, should still qualify but face a trickier test against China on Monday.
They risk being caught by the Chinese or South Africa, who aim to boost their own qualification hopes on Thursday in Paris after losing their opening games.
- ‘Special’ Oshoala sinks South Korea -
Nigeria's Asisat Oshoala plays her club football for Spanish giants Barcelona
Earlier Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby hailed forward Asisat Oshoala as “special” after her goal helped the Super Falcons to a 2-0 win over South Korea and took them close to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years.
Oshoala struck 15 minutes from the end with a super burst and finish to seal the win after a comical own goal from Kim Do-yeon, who somehow hooked a long ball back past onrushing goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, had put Nigeria ahead in the 29th minute.
“She’s very special because no-one has the speed she has,” the Swede said the lightning quick 24-year-old after a huge win, just their second in the World Cup since 1999.
The victory for Dennerby’s side left the unfortunate South Koreans pointless after their first two games in Group A and put Nigeria level with France and Norway on three ahead of their crunch clash in Nice later on Wednesday.
Nigeria can now legitimately hope for a place in the last 16 regardless of what happens in their last group match against the tournament-hosting French thanks to the best third-placed teams going through.
The three points they have could well be enough to see the Super Falcons through to the knockout rounds for the first time since 1999, when they reached the quarter-finals in the US.
However Dennerby is targeting a result against France in Rennes on Monday to remove all doubt.
“France are a very good team, if we come out of that with one point we’ll all be very happy,” Dennerby added.
South Korea meanwhile face an uphill task to go through as they face a strong Norway side in their final group match next week.