for this game

Germany holds off Canada to open defense of WWC title

Jun 26, 2011 - 8:49 PM Berlin, Germany (Sports Network) - Germany opened defense of its Women's World Cup title on Sunday with a 2-1 win over Canada in a Group A contest played in front of over 73,000 fans at the Olympic Stadium.

The Germans dominated play over the majority of the match with Kerstin Garefrekes scoring Germany's first goal after 10 minutes before assisting on the second, which was scored shortly before halftime by Celia Okoyino da Mbabi.

Christine Sinclair made things interesting for Canada with a well-taken free kick in the 82nd minute that found the back of the net, marking the first goal allowed by Germany in a World Cup since the 2003 final.

But the Germans did enough to see out the match and will next face Nigeria on Thursday, while Canada meets France the same day.

"I think it was a good game, certainly one the fans will have enjoyed," Canada coach Carolina Morace said. "We had more possession than the Germans - and to do that in Germany, in front of this magnificent crowd and against the best team in the world, is very good indeed. The first match of a tournament is always difficult. Perhaps we were a little bit fearful at the start but my team put in a good performance."

Sinclair missed out on a great chance to give Canada an early lead in the sixth minute when she fired a shot over the net from inside the penalty area with only goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to beat.

From there, Germany took the game over as Garefrekes finished off a left-wing cross from Babett Peter by heading the ball home from close range.

Melanie Behringer nearly doubled the lead in the 40th minute for Germany with a shot that just barely sailed over the crossbar. But Garefrekes helped extend the lead two minutes later by lobbing a ball over the top of the Canadian defense for Da Mbabi, who beat the offsides trap and easily slotted her shot past Erin McLeod in the Canada net.

Germany came close on multiple occasions to adding to its lead as substitute Alexandra Popp struck the crossbar from long range, while Garefrekes missed an open net from eight yards.

Simone Laudehr then rattled the bar from 30 yards as Germany continued its dominance. Things got interesting over the final minutes as Sinclair scored on a wonderful free kick, but Germany was able to hold out for all three points.

"An opening match like that is always a bit strange," Garefrekes said. "You don't know where you or the team are in terms of performance, so I'm delighted we were able to win the game. Still, there's plenty of room for improvement. We're going to need to step it up - and we will."