Germany tops France 5-4 in shootout to reach semis
Montreal — Germany coach Silvia Neid needed five volunteers for the shootout that could beat France and put the two-time Women's World Cup champions into the semifinals.
She got four.
Some of her players were looking down at their shoes. Others were on the bench, nursing the wounds they picked up during 120 minutes of physical play on artificial turf that left France's Kheira Hamraoui on the sideline, her face soaked in blood, begging to get back into the game.
Midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan, who had twisted an ankle, said she would try.
"I don't know how she did it, to walk up to the spot," Neid recalled with amazement. "I said, 'Oh, my goodness. If we have to continue, somebody has to go.' "
All five Germans converted, then Nadine Angerer stopped Claire Lavogez on the final shootout attempt and Germany beat France 5-4 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 tie Friday.
"France is an extremely good team. We all saw it," said Neid, whose team will play the United States in the semifinals on Tuesday.
"We had to play for 120 minutes today, and we will have to rest. We have some injured players," she said. "But we are among the best four teams in the world, and maybe there is some more life left in us."
Celia Sasic tied the score in the 84th minute, and Angerer stopped the one shootout attempt top-ranked Germany needed for its first World Cup win on penalty kicks. The 2003 and ''07 champions have a chance for another trophy after their win over No. 3 France in a match that was seen as an "early final."
Louisa Necib put France ahead in the 64th minute as Les Bleues controlled the first half and more. But Sasic scored the equalizer — her tournament-leading sixth goal — on a penalty kick after a handball, and then converted in the shootout as well to give Germany the edge.
"I think our team has proven its character. Because you have to flip that switch in the second half, and we did that extremely well," Neid said. "And then we had Nadine Angerer, who can hold a penalty kick."
The match remained scoreless until French defender Jessica Hourara lofted the ball in from midfield to the penalty area, where Germany's Babett Peter was waiting. She headed it away from the goal but right to Necib, whose shot from just outside the area was deflected to the right of Angerer's outstretched hand and into the net.
Germany tried to respond with physical play, and Lena Goessling and Dzsenifer Morozsan were given yellow cards in the 68th minute. But it could not muster an attack until the 84th, after Leonie Maier kicked the ball off defender Amel Majri's raised arm just inside the penalty area.
Sasic booted the spot kick to Sarah Bouhaddi's right when the keeper guessed left. The Germans have been awarded 12 penalty kicks in World Cup play and converted them all.
And the Germans made it 17-for-17 in the shootout.
With Germany shooting first, Melanie Behringer, Simone Laudehr, Peter and Marozsan all converted kicks for the Germans, and Gaetane Thiney, Camille Abily, Necib and Wendie Renard tied the score for France.
Sasic put the Germans back ahead and Lavogez, at 21 France's third-youngest player, ran up to the spot and kicked the ball to the Angerer's left. The 2013 FIFA Women's Player of the Year — the first goalkeeper, male or female, to win the honor — dove and blocked the ball with her left knee, setting off a German celebration in this French-speaking city.
"We sang a few songs; we were happy to have made it one match further," Angerer said. "We didn't go overboard. We weren't dancing on the chairs or tables. But, yes, we were happy. It was a very intense game, and I was extremely elated along with the rest of the team."
Germany will be back for a semifinal at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, where the East German men won the 1976 gold medal.
France had its opportunities early, taking 14 shots in the first half to five for Germany.
And it had them late, including a free kick in the 99th minute following a handball just outside the 18-yard box. Amel Majri kicked it straight into the defending wall.
In the 117th minute, Gaetane Thiney missed a wide-open net. Angerer thought that Thiney had been called offside until Neid corrected her at the postgame news conference.
"Oh," the goalkeeper said, "then we were lucky."
France qualified for the 2016 Olympics but fell short of matching its fourth-place finish — its best ever — in the 2011 World Cup.
"Everyone says, 'You had a great game. You are at the level of Germany,' " France coach Philippe Bergeroo said. "But we lost.
"So what matters is to learn, to learn that to dominate doesn't mean that you'll win. They need to learn what will allow them to win games in the future."