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Group B: Germany 1-0 China PR 

Rennes: A second-half strike from Giulia Gwinn proved decisive as Germany claimed all three points in their opening FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 clash against China PR on Saturday.

Jia Xiuquan’s side made life more difficult than many observers had anticipated for the two-time winners, but were left to rue a series of missed first-half opportunities as teenage star Gwinn sealed the win in the 66th minute.

Despite their defeat, China PR’s campaign is far from over, with forthcoming matches against South Africa and Spain to decide their knockout stage fate.

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Entering the match as strong favourites, the second-ranked Germans immediately signalled their intent, with Sära Dabritz sending a 25-yeard effort narrowly wide in just the third minute.

But, against the run of play, China PR carved out an excellent scoring chance in the 14th minute, when a counter-attack ended with Yang Li seeing her goal-bound shot blocked by German defender Sara Doorsoun – and effort which perhaps should have found the net with goalkeeper Almuth Schult effectively sidelined by Gu Yasha’s pass.

Germany continued to control the bulk of possession, and they came close to scoring when Carolin Simon’s cross hit the woodwork, and the pressure built further when Alexandra Popp sent a header narrowly over the bar.

China, though, largely held firm at the back, and they ended the opening period by spurning two more excellent chances to take the lead; the first of which fell to Yang, who was desperately unlucky to see her curling effort hit the upright, before Gu passed when she ought to have shot in the second minute of stoppage time.

Reigning AFC Women’s Player of the Year Wang Shuang was introduced at half-time, and a physically bruising first-half began to take its toll on a number of German players, but Chinese goalkeeper Peng Shimeng had to remain vigilant to keep out a cross from Giulia Gwinn in the 57th minute.

But there was little Peng could do to stop Gwinn nine minutes later, when the 19-year-old took a touch before slamming home the opener from 20 yards after the Steel Roses failed to clear their lines following one of eight German corners.

The concession of Gwinn’s goal was the signal for China to get players forward on a more consistent basis, but a Zhang Rui volley, which flew over the crossbar in the 83rd minute, was closest they came to levelling the tie.

China PR’s next fixture, on Thursday, pits them against tournament debutants South Africa at Parc des Princes in Paris.

Photos: AFP

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