Kerstin Garefrekes and Celia Okoyino da Mbabi scored first-half goals to lead Germany to a comfortable 2-1 win over Canada Sunday in Group A action from Berlin at the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Canadian captain Christine Sinclair scored her 117th international goal on a gorgeous free kick in the 82nd minute to make the game look a lot closer than it really was between the two sides.
The losing streak continues.
Ten times Germany and Canada have faced off in international competition at senior level, and 10 times the Germans have won, their latest victory coming before a sell out crowd at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on the opening day of the competition.
The result for Canada wasn't as dire as the previous match, a 5-0 decision for Germany in Dresden last September in an international friendly. But Sunday's affair left no doubt that there is still a considerable gap in class between Germany, ranked No. 2 in the world, and the sixth-ranked Canadians, who many picked as a tournament dark horse.
All too often the Canadians conceded possession cheaply, and were routinely overpowered by the Germans. Canada's attack looked limp against the reigning two-time World Cup champions, devoid of ideas and creativity, while too many defensive lapses occurred.
Defender Marie-Eve Nault was far from her best, as she was out-jumped by Garefrekes on the first goal, and she was the last player to step up on a poorly executed offside trap on the second. Nault was substituted off at the start of the second half, as was midfielder Kaylyn Kyle, who was a mere spectator in the opening 45 minutes.
The changes made little difference. Germany continued to carve open the Canadian defence at will in the second half, and the damage could have been far worse if not for the Germans' lack of finishing.
Coach Carolina Morace decided to go with Erin McLeod in goal instead of Karina LeBlanc, who started for Canada during the CONCACAF qualifiers. While McLeod made a great save on Garefrekes early on, she often looked uneasy and hesitant when coming off her line.
As for Sinclair, Canada's star forward spurned a great scoring chance in the opening minutes when she blasted an off-target shot after being exquisitely played alone into the German box. Sinclair barely had a sniff of goal after that, until she beat German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer with a sublime free kick.
The good news for Canada, however, is that its toughest first-round opponent is out of the way. Winnable matches against France and Nigeria loom, and if Canada can collect six points from those encounters they will move on to the next round.
What this result means
With the win Germany moves into a tie with France for first place in Group A with three points apiece. Canada and Nigeria, 1-0 losers to France earlier in the day, are pointless. Canada's next game is against France in Bochum on June 30 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, Noon ET) — a game that it has to at least earn a point from if it has any hope of advancing to the knockout stage.
The turning point
Garefrekes opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a powerful header, bagging her first goal of the tournament off a beautiful cross delivered by teammate Babett Peter. Canada appeared to be holding its own, but the defence failed to pull off the offside trap, allowing Okoyino da Mbabi to stroll in on the Canadian goal and beat goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
Save of the match
Just seconds before Garefrekes's goal, McLeod made a fantastic close-range block to rob the German midfielder.
Player of the match
Kerstin Garefrekes. The German midfielder not only opened the scoring, but she effectively used her size and strength to cause plenty of problems for the Canadian defenders.
The Canadian perspective
"We had a good first half. We had more possession of the ball than Germany and I think for now it's enough because the first game is always difficult. We knew that and the personality [the players] showed was good, and so maybe if Christine Sinclair was more lucky in [the first half] … maybe we'd be talking about another result." — coach Carolina Moarce, post-match interview with CBC