Germany and Spain open World Cup with tense wins as Norway cruise

The women’s World Cup moved up a gear on Saturday with three matches including a narrow German victory over China that left the winners complaining that they were roughed up, but Sunday’s three-match programme finishes with a new chapter in the oldest international football rivalry, as England take on Scotland in Nice.

Germany beat China 1-0 in Rennes on Saturday with a 66th-minute goal by 19-year-old Giulia Gwinn.

Later, Spain came from behind against first-time participants South Africa to win 3-1 and join Germany at the top of Group B.

In the evening, Norway found there is life after Ada Hegerberg, scoring three times in 20 minutes in the middle of the first half to beat Nigeria 3-0 in Group A.

The Germans complained that the Chinese had aimed for their ankles.

“They were often late in the tackles and kept catching our feet,” said German captain Alexandra Popp.

Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg said she had not been sure at one stage if star Dzsenifer Marozsan would finish the match.

“A lot of our players were caught on the ankle today, and it doesn’t look good for some of them. What Dzseni Marozsan suffered today was brutal.”

“We were a little surprised by the assertive approach of the Chinese, but it’s a competitive game, not a friendly,” she said.

In Le Havre, South Africa took a shock lead with their first ever shot on target at a Women’s World Cup when Thembi Kgatlana, who plays for Beijing BG Phoenix in China, curled a right-foot shot into the top corner in the 25th minute.

Spain dominated possession, but needed 69th and 82nd-minute penalties, both converted by Jennifer Hermoso, to regain control of the game.

Guro Reiten scored Norway’s first goal and gave a player-of-the-match display to suggest Norway can thrive without Lyon striker Hegerberg who refused to come to the tournament.

“I don’t think I have played better,” Reiten said.

The victory puts Norway level with France at the top of Group A.

On Sunday evening, England and Scotland meet for the first time in a Women’s World Cup.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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