PARIS • Midfielder Giulia Gwinn scored the only goal yesterday as Germany opened their Women's World Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over China in Group B.
On a sunny but breezy early summer's day perfect for football, in front of a noisy crowd of 15,283 in Rennes, Germany - twice winners of this competition - dominated possession and territory.
Yet, in a game of slick passing mixed with robust challenges, they twice survived narrow escapes.
The 19-year-old Gwinn fired in from the edge of the box in the 66th minute to break stiff Chinese resistance and seal the victory.
But China had almost stunned the favourites against the run of play in the first half when Yang Li was sent through after a German error, but her shot was cleared when she looked certain to score.
Carolin Simon hit the woodwork with a cross minutes later, but Germany's early dominance faded as the Chinese gained in confidence.
China then earned another golden chance from a quick break, hitting the post in the 44th minute before Germany goalkeeper Almuth Schult came to the rescue.
With the win, Germany are now unbeaten in their last 13 matches, the longest run of any team taking part in the tournament in France.
"That was hard work. We started well but the goal didn't come. We were more stable after the break and we got the reward for our efforts in the end," said Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
In Friday's opener, France coach Corinne Diacre said her side had taken their first step towards Cup success but warned they must stay grounded after they started with a 4-0 victory over South Korea.
Les Bleues were rarely troubled by a limited side and took only nine minutes for forward Eugenie Le Sommer to fire the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
Wendie Renard doubled the tally with a downward header in the 35th minute, and the towering defender added another with her head on the stroke of half-time.
France's intensity dropped after the break until five minutes from the final whistle, when captain Amandine Henry curled a superb shot into the far corner.
"We worked a lot, they suffered a lot during the preparation period. We won tonight but it's just the first step," Diacre told a news conference at the Parc des Princes.
"We need six more (steps) to reach our goal, we must keep our feet on the ground, keep working.
"We started well and we made it easy for ourselves. It was important to score a second goal before the break, and we did even better."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE