Germany 3 Norway 0: Germany power past Norway to earn final spot

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The Independent Football

The defending champions Germany set a new defensive record as they eased past Norway yesterday to claim a place in the final of the women's World Cup.

Germany will play the winner of today's United States-Brazil semi-final, in Sunday's final in Shanghai. An own goal by Norway's Trine Ronning just before half-time set Germany on their way, and they dominated the second half, with further goals from Kerstin Stegemann and Martina Mueller.

Germany have now gone 529 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal, dating back to the 2003 tournament. It took them past China's record of 442 minutes, set in the 1999 and 2003 events.

"It was tough in the beginning, but our defence did very well," Silvia Neid, Germany's coach, said. "Then we scored at the right moment."

Germany's opening goal in the 42nd minute was set up by Fatmire Bajramaj, who had come off the bench a minute earlier . Bajramaj's through-ball found Birgit Prinz, who whipped in a cross from the left, and Ronning – attempting to block the ball with her chest – only succeeded in diverting it into the net. Germany went up 2-0 in the 72nd minute. After a quick break, Prinz played a ball inside to right-back Stegemann. Her shot took a deflection, looped beyond the reach of Norway goalkeeper Bente Nordby, on to the inside of the left post and into the net.

It was 3-0 three minutes later. A long ball by Stegemann pierced an uncertain Norwegian defence, and Siri Nordby underhit a backpass, allowing substitute Mueller to steal in and score. Germany almost made it four when Prinz's cut-back from the right, found Bajramaj, whose shot rattled the crossbar.

Prinz, who was named player of the match, said the team was nearing its best. "We peaked at the right time," she said. "We were stronger than our last two opponents, particularly in the second halves. It seems we are fit at the right moment."

Germany: Angerer, Stegemann, Hingst, Krahn, Bresonik (Minnert 81), Behringer (Bajramaj 41), Garefrekes, Lingor, Laudehr, Smisek (Mueller 65), Prinz. Substitutes not used: Holl, Rottenberg, Bartusiak, Peter, Fuss, Wimbersky, Mittag.

Norway: Bente Nordby, Stangeland Horpestad, Huse, Folstad (Siri Nordby 48), Stensland, Marie Knutsen, Ronning, Solveig Gulbrandsen (Storlokken 56), Herlovsen (Klaveness 46), Larsen Kaurin, Ragnhild Gulbrandsen. Substitutes not used: Nilsen, Skarbo, Fiane Christensen, Giske, Mykjaland, Wiik, Guro Knutsen.

Referee: D Damkova (Czech Rep)

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