Germany’s goalkeeper captain Nadine Angerer was the star in her team’s victory over France in the first quarterfinal played on Friday at Montreal’s Olympic stadium. It was a curious case of leading her side to victory not from front but standing back between two posts during the penalty shoot-out. The two teams had played 90 minutes of entertaining football and until six minutes from final whistle, the Frenchwomen had the match in their pocket from Louisa Necib’s 64th goal. Just when it seemed that France would sail into the semifinal, the Germans got lucky in getting a dramatic penalty award in the 84th minute. The referee thought that Amel Majri had handled Maier’s left-footed cross in the French penalty area. In taking the spot-kick, Celia Sasic calmly sent Bouhaddi the wrong way to make it 1-1. The match went into extra time but no goals could be scored. During the penalty shoot-out, Nadine Angerer came to Germany’s rescue and the 5-4 result took her team to the semifinals. The Germans will take on USA, who also played a great game in ousting China 1-0 in the other quarterfinal at Ottawa. The USA-China game was decided by a brilliant header from Carli Lloyd from a distance of 7 yards, when she got a perfect floater of a pass from the midfield by Julie Johnston in the 51st minute. It was USA’s best outing after their mediocre show at group stage. In a machine-like performance, they relegated China to playing just a second fiddle.
As the match started, France were quickly off the blocks and had a scoring chance in opening seconds, when Elodie Thomis created an opportunity but Louisa Necib fired wide of Nadine Angerer’s right post. Regardless, the Frenchwomen played with authority in the first half creating chances for themselves and denying the Germans. But Germany also had a few close chances but Celia Sasic and Marie Laure Delie both headed over the crossbar. Another brilliant effort from Necib was wasted, when she rifled a stinging shot but Nadine Angerer tipped it round the post. After the scoreless first half, Germany played much better in the second half. They made two genuine attempts. First Sasic entered the French penalty area but her shot was cleared by French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi. Then when substitute Dzsenifer Marozsan took a free-kick, Bouhaddi saved it nicely. The deadlock was finally broken, when Louisa Necib found some inadvertent assistance from the German defense. Germany’s Babett Peter used a header to clear a long ball long Jessica Houara but the ball was seized by Necib. As the Frenchwoman shot hard, Babett Peter deflected the ball past and France went ahead 1-0. It looked as though that France would go into the semifinals but in dramatic turn of events, the referee thought that Frenchwoman Amel Majri handled the cross sent by Germany’s Leonie Mairer in the 84th minute. The life-saving equalizer for Germany came, when Celia Sasic smartly converted from the penalty-spot. After fulltime, the teams played 30 minutes of tense extra time. No goals could accrue and the decision rested on the penalty shootout. The Germans converted from the spot but every German supporter looked at Angerer’s show. When the captain flung herself to her left to keep out Claire Lavogez’s final effort, it was curtains for France as the Germans won 5-4 in the shootout, leaving the French supporters shell-shocked.
In the other quarterfinal, USA displayed their machine-like superiority over China. The score line of 1-0 doesn’t tell the true story of USA’s dominance over their rivals. However, their control over the ball couldn’t be translated into goals as halftime ended 0-0. USA could have taken the lead before halftime, when China’s goalkeeper spilled a high, hanging cross in the path of Julie Johnston but Julie’s shot was nicely blocked. USA lost another chance, when Carli Lloyd’s swerving free-kick was repelled by Wang. But just after the halftime, when Julie Johnston sent a floating cross to Lloyd, who produced a towering header from 7 yards that found the target. The match continued for another 39 minutes but it was USA who emerged the 1-0 winners.
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