Germany opened their FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying campaign with an impressive win against Group 4 leaders Russia in Siegen.
The reigning European and world champions looked in fine form, striking twice in the opening exchanges and never relinquishing control of the game. Galina Komarova restored some Russian pride in the second half, but two late goals ensured the scoreline accurately reflected Germany's dominance against a team that had begun the group by defeating the other contenders, Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Switzerland.
Duo step up
New Germany coach Silvia Neid went into her first competitive game in charge without injured duo Steffi Jones and Conny Pohlers. Sandra Minnert replaced Jones in defence, and celebrated her selection with a goal, while Pohlers's 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam team-mate Petra Wimbersky got the nod to replace her on the left wing.
As new-look Germany settled, Elena Morozova almost got Russia off to a sensational start, but goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg denied her. The home side were soon in control, however, as Kerstin Garefrekes won a penalty on six minutes, and Renate Lingor despatched the spot-kick.
Garefrekes was involved again two minutes later, finding Inka Grings at the edge of the box. The UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ top scorer doubled the lead with a crisp finish past Elvira Todua. Despite overwhelming pressure, Germany had to wait until 43 minutes before a third goal came, Sandra Minnert lashing home a Birgit Prinz corner on the volley.
After the break, Russia belatedly showed the form that took them top of the group with wins over Scotland and Switzerland. Komarova was left unmarked in the German box and gave Rottenberg no chance with the finish.
But there was still time for reigning FIFA World Player of the Year Prinz to exert her influence. Three minutes from time she beat Todua with a left-footed shot from the edge of the area, and seconds later her shot was too hot for Todua to handle, presenting substitute Sandra Smisek with a simple tap-in from the rebound. Germany's campaign continues with the visit of Scotland next month, while Russia begin the second half of their fixture programme on 24 May, in Scotland.
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