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Grings leads Germany to 4-2 win over France

Jul 6, 2011 - 12:13 AM Monchengladbach, Germany (Sports Network) - Inka Grings made sure Germany did not miss Birgit Prinz on Tuesday.

Grings had two goals and an assist in her first start of the Women's World Cup to lead Germany to a 4-2 win over France and to first place in Group A at the Women's World Cup.

Germany benched striker Birgit Prinz, the all-time leading scorer in World Cup history with 14 goals, but Grings scored in the 32nd and 68th, and assisted on Okoyino da Mbabi's goal in the 89th at Borussia-Park.

"It's a really great feeling," Grings said. "I wanted to start the game with a bang and settle quickly and it went just as I'd hoped. The fans got to see a fantastic game and naturally I'm delighted with my two goals."

Kerstin Garefrekes also scored for Germany, which played the final 25 minutes up a player after France goalie Berangere Sapowicz was sent off.

Marie-Laure Delie and Laura Georges scored after halftime for France, which is still through to the knockout stage as the second-place team from Group A.

Germany plays Japan and France plays England in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

The Germans looked to take control of the match in a seven-minute span of the first half, as Garefrekes scored her second goal of the tournament and Grings opened her account after two short appearances off the bench.

The first goal came off a free kick from the left side from Babett Peter, who drove a pass from about 40 yards toward the far post to earn her second assist of the tournament. Garefrekes ran onto the ball on the right side of the area, then powered a header to the upper left from 6 yards in the 25th minute.

Grings followed in the 32nd off another header as she reached a left-wing pass from Simone Laudehr, then headed a shot from 10 yards just under the crossbar in the middle of the goal.

France made two changes at halftime, and the introduction of Delie and Camille Abily allowed France - even after the ejection of Sapowicz - to push Germany to the final whistle.

Sandrine Soubeyrand sent a corner kick in from the right that just cleared two Germany players on the near side, where Delie headed to the top-left corner to score her second goal of the tournament.

Grings nearly put Germany back in front by two goals in the 60th when she sent a free kick to the bottom left that Sapowicz dove to save.

But minutes later, Sapowicz fouled Germany's Fatmire Bajramaj in the area and was shown a red card. Grings buried the penalty kick to the right side against backup goalie Celine Deville in the 66th to retore the two-goal cushion.

Even down a player, the French answered with another goal off a corner kick in the 72nd to leave the final in doubt over the last 20 minutes. Abily delivered the corner from the left to the far post, and Georges headed back to the left to score her first goal of the event.

Germany ended all doubt in the 89th minute when Da Mbabi added her second goal of the event off an assist from Grings, who flicked a header from the middle to the right side. Da Mbabi fired back inside the left post to convert.

Two-time defending champion Germany extended its World Cup unbeaten streak to 15 matches, and appears to be back on track after a pair of one-goal victories against Canada and Nigeria.

"I thought our defense was really good today and our attack was fantastic," Germany coach Silvia Neid said.