Holders Germany got their UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ campaign off to an emphatic start after a late burst of goals left Norway reeling.
Linda Bresonik’s first-half penalty put the holders in front but they seemed unable to add to the lead, and Norway were even pushing for an equaliser. But Fatmire Bajramaj made it 2-0 in the 90th minute and fellow substitute Anja Mittag found the net two minutes later in added time before Bajramaj struck again to seal a convincing Group B win.
In a rematch of the 2005 final, won by Germany, it was the holders who carved out the first real opening of the match after just seven minutes. Melanie Behringer drove inside purposefully from the left wing before releasing a fizzing 15-metre drive. But Norway goalkeeper Ingrid Hjelmseth was well-positioned to block the initial effort before gathering the loose ball. Five minutes later, Germany's early pressure appeared to have paid off when Inka Grings headed in a Bianca Schmidt cross, but her effort was ruled offside.
With 33 minutes gone, though, just as Norway looked to be clawing their way back into the match, Germany finally made the breakthrough after captain Birgit Prinz was fouled in the box by Norway's Maren Mjelde. Bresonik stepped up and made no mistake from the penalty spot.
Norway mustered their best effort of the half three minutes later thanks to a terrific driving run by Isabell Herlovsen. The German-born striker burst down the right flank before centring the ball for strike partner Elise Thorsnes, who shot a fraction wide of the post. However, Norway could have been further behind if it was not for Hjelmseth; her best stop came on the stroke of half-time when she denied Behringer from point-blank range.
The second period brought further Germany pressure and yet more Hjelmseth heroics as, with an hour gone, another acrobatic save kept out a curling Grings free-kick, before Prinz was next to see her best effort batted away by the resilient Norway No1. With a minute to go there was nearly an equaliser as substitute Cecilie Pedersen, who only made her Norway debut last Wednesday, broke clear but was denied by Nadine Angerer.
Germany broke, and Bajramaj made it 2-0 from Mittag's cross. Two minutes later Mittag had a goal of her own, her shot looping over Hjelmseth and in via a deflection off Camille Huse. Still the scoring was not complete, Bajramaj adding her second from close range, and Germany will be full of confidence when they meet France here on Thursday, when Norway will need to bounce back against Iceland.
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