England women lose 1-0 to Germany at Selhurst Park in front of 14,000
England women lose 1-0 to Germany at Selhurst Park in front of a record crowd of 14,000
A record crowd of over 14,000 saw England's women suffer a narrow defeat against Germany at Selhurst Park this afternoon in their final World Cup qualifying group game.
England had already secured 2nd place in the group, so the result did not affect the final standings - and Hope Powell's side can now look forward to a World Cup play-off semi-final in August and September.
The Germans have now recorded 13 straight victories against England, but there was much to admire in the performance of the home side.
England started brightly with Rachel Yankey looking lively on the left wing, despite suffering a cut lip in the first challenge of the afternoon.
Katie Chapman slotted into midfeld, rather than her customary centre back role, and was soon making crunching tackles and winning the ball for her team.
Germany created the best early chances, with giant striker Birgit Prinz sending a close range header just over the bar and then forcing Pauline Cope in the England goal into a flying save after 28 minutes.
Cope then went in bravely to gather the ball, but was clattered by Grings and left motionless on the ground. After prolonged treatment, she left the field to be replaced by Leanne Hall, who came on for her 8th cap.
Germany took the lead soon after, following a free-kick awarded on the edge of the area for a foul on Prinz. There was an element of fortune about the goal, as Stefanie Gottschlich's left footed strike came off the knee of Rachel Unitt in the wall and shot into the corner of the goal, giving Hall no chance.
Powell looked to change things at half time, bringing on Amanda Barr up front for Angela Banks. However, England found it difficult to create chances and Silke Rottenburg in the German goal was rarely threatened seriously.
Karen Burke did create an opportunity with a free kick which the German keeper had to punch clear, and captain Karen Walker carved out a chance after 72 minutes only to shoot wide.
Julie Fletcher replace Yankey with 6 minutes to go, and almost immediately, another Burke free kick was nearly turned in by Walker. But that proved to be the last real chance, and Germany held on for the narrowest of victories.
Hope Powell was buoyant after the final whistle, despite the result.
"The girls were magnificent today," she said. "They worked really hard, dug deep and went for it at the end.
"Germany are a very good side, but we're getting closer.
"We've had a long season, we 're guaranteed a play off, and we can be very pleased."
England: Cope (Hall), Stoney, Unitt, Chapman, White, Phillip, Burke, Exley, Walker, Banks (Barr), Yankey (Fletcher)
Germany: Rottenberg, Stegmann, Gottschlich, Kunzer, Omilide, Lingor (Pohlers), Wunderlich, Minnert, Prinz (Schadrack), Wiegmann, Grings
Ref: Sabrina Rinaldi