Day 1 of the 2011 Women's World Cup comes to an end. 4 goals, 2 expected wins and 1 broken nose.
Group A action got underway today in the 6th Women's World Cup. France faced Nigeria in the first match. Nigeria wasn't expected to come out with three points but they also weren't expected to hold a tight game against the European side. The Nigerians took full advantage of their speed which proved to be deadly against a gassed French team. Nigeria played a high back line, allowing them to attack, putting their athleticism to good use and pressuring France. 25 minutes in, Desire Oparanozie had a breakaway opportunity but shot it wide. It wasn't till the 57th minute where second half sub Marie-Laure Delie was in the right spot at the right time, scoring her 22nd goal in 21 appearances.
Should Nigeria continue their high pressure they could give Canada and Germany a run for their money. With Germany and Canada in their path, France could see an early exit if their fitness continue to be an issue.
The second match of the day was the feature match in front on 73,680 people: Canada vs Germany. Right from the get go drama filled Olympic Stadium in Berlin. Just 6 minutes after kick off, Christine Sinclair had a golden opportunity to put the Canadians up 1-0 but shot it high. Four minutes later Kersten Garefrekes climbed over Marie-Eve Nault, heading the ball past Erin McLeod. Just before half time Okoyino Da Mbabi slipped passed the unorganized Canadian defence and tucked away Germany's second goal.
Early in the second half, Christine Sinclair made her way down the final third where Babett Peter, defending the ball, slamed her elbow into the Canadian captain's nose. She was visibily hurt and taken off the pitch. Tears were streaming down her face, blood dripping out her nose. It was clear she had broken her nose. However there was no way she was leaving the game, forcing Morace to use her third and final sub. No, with her grit and passion, Christine Sinclair continued playing..
Canada held most of the possession, Germany had more chances - ringing two off the cross bar and a open net miss.
With eight minutes left, Sinclair got clipped, earning a free kick 25 yards out. Sincy stepped up to take the kick and curled a perfectly placed ball into the top right corner, ending Nadine Angerer's record of not conceding a goal in a World Cup match since 2003.
The final whitsle blew and the score ended in a respectable 2-1 loss for Canada.
If there's ever such a thing called a 'good loss" this would be it. Though shaky at times, Canada held their own and put up a good fight against the best women's football team in the world. They held most of the possession, produced some good chances and did not seem intimidated by the pro-German crowd. I liked the creative set pieces our ladies displayed, particularly the on towards the end of the match where Rhian Wilkinson played it short to Jonelle Filigno who then gave a square ball to Sinclair. Christine played a controlled ground ball to Candace Chapman about 40 yards out, crossed it to Emily Zurrer who's first touch was poor and trickled wide. It's nice to see Morace has some tricks up her sleeve.Credit also has to go to Erin McLeod who kept her composure and made some key saves for Canada. Nice to see her back in between the pipes on a big stage.
Although there were some good things that came out of this loss, Canada still needs to work on a few things. O'm no expert I'll be the first one to say it buy many times throughout the match our backline were unorganized. At times we just stood there a watched the ball. Our backline is usually rock solid. Should they see anything past Group A they'll need to clean that up and play to our potential.
Next up is the crucial game versus France on June 30th at 12pm ET. Will be live on CBC and cbcsports.ca.