VALENCIENNES, France: Sara Daebritz scored the only goal of the game as Germany beat Spain 1-0 in their women’s World Cup Group B match yesterday to all but secure a spot in the next round.
The two-times champions, who beat China in their group opener, are on six points, with Spain in second on three. China and South Africa, who play each other today, have no points.
Spain had more possession, but Germany looked more dangerous despite missing the injured Dzsenifer Marozsan.
Daebritz grabbed the winner on the rebound in the 42nd minute, sliding in to push the ball over the line after Spain keeper Sandra Panos had blocked an Alexandra Popp header.
Spain made the better start and went close to scoring early on but Nahikari Garcia failed to beat Almuth Schult when one-on-one with the Germany keeper.
Germany improved after the break, especially following the introduction of 18-year-old Klara Buehl, who gave them more pace and attacking options.
“We did not start well, we were nervous for some reason. We were lucky not to fall a goal behind,” said Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
“Thank God we scored and then we delivered an amazing-energy performance in the second half. The important thing now is we have six points in this group.”
Germany are unbeaten in their last 14 matches, the longest run of any team in France.
Earlier yesterday, Nigeria took their chances against the run of play to beat South Korea 2-0 to set themselves up to advance to the next stage.
A first half own goal at the Stade des Alps and a breakaway attack, brilliantly finished by Asisat Oshoala, ensured the Africa champions only their fourth win in eight World Cup finals appearances and a chance to go to the second round for just a second time.
The Koreans, beaten 4-0 by hosts France in the tournament opener last Friday, are all but out of contention after a surprise setback in their second Group A game.
After weathering Korea’s early attacks, Nigeria went ahead just before the half hour mark when defender Kim Do-yeon miscued an effort to try to clear a long ball through the middle and steered it past her goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, who had come rushing out of her goal and was stranded.
There was a lengthy Video Assistant Referee review to see whether Nigeria’s captain Desire Oparanozie might have brushed the ball with her hand as she headed to the goal but there was no conclusive evidence to rule out the goal.
Korea were pulled back for offside when they found the net in the 58th minute before a Nigeran counter attack saw Oshoala, a three-time African women’s Footballer of the Year, ran half the length of the field, brushed past a defender, rounded the goalkeeper and squeezed the ball home from an almost improbable angle.
She might have scored in similar fashion just two minutes after the 75th minute goal but a heavy first touch saw the opportunity slip away.
Nigeria lost their opening game 3-0 to Norway in Reims on Saturday.