European soccer powers Germany and Sweden clash in Round of 16

As the weekend signified Round of 16 play, the top-ranked German squad returned to Ottawa. Having finished first in Group B (most Group B matches were contested in Ottawa), they hosted a Swedish team that earned a third-place finish at the 2011 edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. In addition, the two had played each other in the final of the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. With members of the Norwegian women’s team in attendance, as their Round of 16 match shall also be in Ottawa, the Germans were unable to capitalize on quick scoring opportunities.

Within the first two minutes of the game, the Germans had a chance to score twice but Alexandra Popp and Simone Laudehr missed on both chances. Eventually, Anja Mittag broke the deadlock with a 22-yard drive for the advantage. Adding to the lead was Celia Sasic, who would score goals in each half. In the 36 minute, she converted a penalty kick (after a trip from Amanda Ilestedt) to a roar of approval from the German fans in attendance. Just before halftime would expire, Sofia Jakobsson had a header that went over the cross bar, proving to be a visceral miss.

Facing a 2-0 deficit at halftime, Sweden came out strong, hoping to break the German’s momentum. Holding them scoreless for the first 33 minutes of the second half, it was testament to the Swede’s sterling efforts. With a header from close range during the 78th minute, Sasic put the Germans ahead by 3 goals.

Remaining determined, the Swedes continued to apply pressure. Linda Sembrant would break the German shutout, heading in a goal.
With eight minutes remaining, a free-kick by Therese Sjogran was headed by Linda Sembrant. Although it seemed like a sure goal, German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer made the save, proving why she is one of the world’s finest at her position. Before time would expire, Dzenifer Marozsan scored the goal of the game with a bicycle kick past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, which impressed all in attendance.

Despite the final outcome, Sweden (who are ranked fifth in the world) played valiantly, employing a never say die attitude, persistent to the end. Although they sat on the turf, tears defining an outpouring of sullen emotion, they received a standing ovation from the soccer fans in attendance at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park. Very graciously, they also greeted fans and signed autographs afterwards, testament to their remarkable sportsmanship.

Currently, Sasic and Mittag are tied in the race for the Golden Boot, leading all players with five goals each. Their next opponent shall be the French team, who defeated South Korea in Round of 16 play at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. Of note, the quarterfinal match between the two shall also take place at Olympic Stadium as Germany looks to continue in its quest to win its third World Cup title.

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