Sun, Sep 16, 2007 - Page 23 News List

England defenders shine as Germany held to a 0-0 draw


Defending champions Germany were held to a goalless draw on Friday as their World Cup challenge lost momentum against Group A rivals England.

The holders were unable to break down a solid English defense marshalled by captain and central defender Faye White.

Their star striker Birgit Prinz, the triple world player of the year, was ever dangerous while England's dazzling attacker Kelly Smith trod a lonely path throughout the second half.

German coach Silvia Neid brought on 19-year-old sensation Fatmire Bajramaj to add penetration but the Germans still failed to break down England.

"I think that England played very well in defense," said Neid, whose side have never lost to the English in 18 games, winning 16 and drawing two.

"They stayed tight and never let us into space so that is the key to this draw," she said.

England coach Hope Powell said the result was "absolutely fantastic" for her side.

"I thought this was a very very tough game," Powell said. "I think this performance was excellent. To get a point from the world champions is a great achievement."

Earlier, Japan beat Argentina 1-0 in the other game in Group A which is now wide open.

Two teams progress from the group to the next round and Japan are currently level on four points with Germany, their next opponents, at the top of the table.

England have two points and Argentina, who they play next, have no points and are eliminated.

Neid said she was happy that Germany were still in with a chance of defending their title.

"Of course we would have liked to gain three points in this game. Nevertheless we can get three points in the next game," she said.

It looked like Germany were on their way to a win in the second half with Prinz showing the way on the hour with a shot that England keeper Rachel Brown did well to save. Midfielder Renate Lingor also came close in the 82nd minute.

Despite the attentions of White, Prinz showed her class in the 73rd minute when she burst through a tackle by the England skipper only to miscue her shot which was easily gathered by goalkeeper Brown.

In the first half England almost took the lead after seven minutes when a through ball completely wrongfooted German keeper Nadine Angerer, bouncing high over her head and just wide of the goal and too long for inrushing England striker Smith.

England continued to cause problems to the German defense with fast build-ups and accurate passing.

But a dangerous moment came in the 44th minute when Germany's Kerstin Garefrekas had a free header in the box but sent it into the arms of the goalkeeper.

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