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Germany beats Norway, 3-0, to reach title game

September 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

TIANJIN, China -- Defending champion Germany set a shutout record in defeating Norway, 3-0, Wednesday and claimed a spot in the final of the Women's World Cup.

Germany will play the winner of today's United States-Brazil semifinal game, with the final set for Sunday in Shanghai.

An own goal by Trine Ronning just before halftime set Germany on its way, and it dominated the second half, with goals by Kerstin Stegemann and Martina Mueller.

Germany has a string of 529 minutes without conceding a World Cup goal, dating to the 2003 tournament. China had the previous record of 442 minutes in the 1999 and 2003 events.

"It was tough in the beginning, but our defense did very well, we didn't allow any chances, particularly to Ragnhild Gulbrandsen," Coach Silvia Neid said about the tournament's top scorer.

Germany's first goal, in the 42nd minute, came after a tactical substitution allowed quick left-sided midfielder Fatmire Bajramaj to come on and make an immediate impact.

Bajramaj's through-ball found Birgit Prinz, who whipped in a cross from the left, and Ronning -- trying to block the ball with her chest -- diverted it into the net.

Norway pushed for the first few minutes of the second half but quickly ran out of energy and lost playmaker Solveig Gulbrandsen, who hobbled off in the 55th because of a thigh injury.

Coach Bjarne Berntsen said Gulbrandsen took a knock on a knee and had to be substituted for, but the player was at odds with that assessment.

"He said that, but he must have seen something I didn't see, because I didn't get injured," Gulbrandsen said.

Germany went ahead, 2-0, in the 72nd minute. Off a quick break, Prinz played a ball inside to right back Stegemann. Her shot took a deflection, looped beyond the reach of goalkeeper Bente Nordby, onto the inside of the left post and into the net.

It was 3-0 only three minutes later. A long ball by Stegemann pierced an uncertain central defense, and Siri Nordby sent a back pass too softly, allowing Mueller to steal in and shoot past the goalkeeper.

Norway will play the U.S.-Brazil loser for third place.

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