Germany were rewarded for their patience as they ran out 5-0 winners against Finland at the Algarve Cup after being held for an hour. The defeat took some gloss off Anne Mäkinen's 100th international cap, as her side folded during the latter stages of the Group A match in Loulé.
After 60 minutes of frustration, FIFA World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz finally carved open the Finnish back line, playing a fine pass for Conny Pohlers to open the scoring. Prinz herself was on the mark three minutes later following a solo run from Kerstin Garefrekes, who thrived in a creative midfield role with regular playmaker Renate Lingor out injured. Garefrekes headed the third on 70 minutes before Melanie Behringer registered her first international goal. A minute from time, Sonja Fuss hit the target to add further gloss to the scoreline.
In the other Group A encounter, Scandinavian rivals Norway and Sweden cancelled each other out in a 0-0 draw. Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby opted for an experimental lineup, leaving star attacker Hanna Ljungberg on the bench. The Swedes enjoyed the better of the chances, with striker Victoria Svensson going closest on 76 minutes, only to see her volley well saved.
Denmark dig deep
In Faro, France squandered a two-goal lead as they were held to a 2-2 draw against Denmark in Group B. Les Bleues appeared to be cruising after early goals from Amélie Coquet and Laëtitia Tonazzi, but Anne Nielsen clawed one back just after the half-hour mark before Cathrine Paaske Sørensen grabbed a share of the points three minutes after half-time. The section's other game also ended in a draw, 0-0 between the United States and China.
The Algarve Cup features eight nations in the main competition, with a further three – Portugal, Mexico and the Republic of Ireland – engaged in a battle for the minor positions. On Saturday, Sweden take on Germany in the pick of the second batch of group games and a rematch of the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup final, which Germany won 2-1 after extra time.
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