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Mexico's late crumble is real shocker

New Zealand earns a 2-2 tie with goals in injury time. England, Germany win groups.

July 06, 2011|Grahame L. Jones

The Women's World Cup in Germany keeps taking one weird turn after another.

On Tuesday, the story of the day should have been England and Germany clinching first place in their first-round groups with 2-0 and 4-2 victories over Japan and France, respectively.

But, no.

First, New Zealand stole a little of the thunder by scoring twice in injury time at the end of its game against Mexico in Sinsheim for an unlikely 2-2 tie.

"It's a draw that feels like a defeat," said Mexican striker Maribel Dominguez. "It was a tragic way for us to end, and being named player of the match brings me no pleasure."

Said New Zealand Coach Herdman: "To win our first point in this way is like winning the World Cup."

Stephany Mayor and Dominguez scored for Mexico, and Rebecca Smith and Hannah Wilkinson were the heroes for New Zealand, which had lost all eight of its previous World Cup games.

But there was something even stranger about to happen in Dresden, where two other now-eliminated teams squared off.

Fijian referee Finau Vulivuli had to add 15 minutes of play to the Canada-Nigeria game, which Nigeria won, 1-0, on an 84th-minute goal by veteran midfielder Perpetua Nkwocha, after the stadium lights failed in the second half.

Not even a power outage could have saved the Japanese or French, however, in the day's two main games.

England, playing a fast and attractive brand of soccer, and matched stride for stride by Japan, got goals from Ellen White and Rachel Yankey to win in front of 20,777 in Augsburg. It secured first place in Group B for England.

"We played really well," said midfielder Jill Scott. "From our point of view it was a great game and great performance -- far better than our previous games against Mexico or New Zealand. We ran for our lives."

England will play France in a quarterfinal Saturday because the French, previously unbeaten, came undone Tuesday against the Germans in a game that kept the crowd of 45,867 in Moenchengladbach on edge.

With the victory, in the highest-scoring game of the competition, Germany clinched Group A and ran its unbeaten streak in World Cup games to 15.

France not only lost the game but also goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz for the quarterfinal game after she was red-carded by Finnish referee Kirsi Heikkinen midway through the second half.

Headed goals by Kerstin Garefrekes and Inka Grings gave Germany a 2-0 lead by halftime.

Marie-Laure Delie cut the deficit to 2-1, but Sapowicz was ejected for a dangerous tackle on forward Fatmire Bajramaj and Grings made it 3-1 with the resulting penalty kick.

Down a player, France still fought back to 3-2 when Laura Georges scored, but Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi netted Germany's fourth goal just before the end.

The coaches were unhappy with Heikkinen for dishing out five yellow cards in addition to the red.

"If you apply her logic there, should be 20 yellow cards in a game," France Coach Bruno Bini said.

"I think it was overdone," Germany Coach Silvia Neid said.

The two-time defending world champion Germans will play Japan in a quarterfinal game Saturday in Wolfsburg.

The first round ends with four games Wednesday, including the U.S. against Sweden for first place in Group C.

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

Jones reported from Ross on Wye, England.

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