Women's World Cup: Germany and France win opening games

By Jonathan StevensonBBC Sport
Germany celebrate Garefrekes' opening goal against Canada
Kerstin Garefrekes (centre) celebrates putting Germany in front against Canada

The Women's World Cup got off to a thrilling start on Sunday as holders and hosts Germany beat Canada and France saw off Nigeria in Group A.

Almost 100,000 people saw the games, with 71,755 at Germany's 2-1 win over Canada at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

Earlier on, there were 27,674 in Sinsheim to see France beat Nigeria 1-0 in the tournament's opening fixture.

England get their campaign under way against Mexico on Monday, live on the Red Button and BBC Sport website.

It was the perfect opening day for the sixth Women's World Cup, with glorious sunshine and crowds flocking to see the tournament get under way.

More than 700,000 tickets have been sold for the three-week event, with about half the games expected to attract more than 20,000 fans. There was a superb turnout for the hosts, with chancellor Angela Merkel and Fifa president Sepp Blatter both in attendance.

France's Marie-Laure Delie (right) in action against Nigeria's Glory Iroka
France's Marie-Laure Delie (right) in action against Nigeria

Germany, winners of the last two World Cups and strong favourites this time around too, got their campaign off to the perfect start when Kerstin Garefrekes headed home after 10 minutes.

Canada looked lively, with striker Christine Sinclair causing the German defence problems, but the hosts doubled their lead just before the break when midfielder Celia Okoyino da Mbabi broke through to roll past Erin McLeod.

The Canadians did pull one back late on thanks to a stunning 25-yard free-kick from the outstanding Sinclair but despite a tense finale, the Germans held on.

"We had a good start to the game but started combining badly towards the end of the first half," said Germany coach Silvia Neid.

"In the second half we created a lot of chances but somehow we forgot how to score. Then Canada came back but but we have now won the game and I am very happy for this start to the tournament."

They joined the French at the top of Group A after they had earlier seen off the challenge of African champions Nigeria at the Rhein-Neckar Arena in Sinsheim.

France, strongly tipped to make an impact in the 16-team competition, were the better team throughout and gained the three points courtesy of Marie-Laure Delie's smart second-half finish.

"We have three points in our pocket and no one can take them away from us," said France coach Bruno Bini.

Public viewing areas for games have been set up in cities to accommodate large groups of fans and all 32 matches in the tournament will be broadcast live in Germany by the two public television channels.

The United States, also twice World Cup winners and the reigning Olympic champions, are the world's number one ranked team and are among the favourites. They take on North Korea, Colombia and Sweden in Group C.

The 32-match tournament, comprising four groups of four teams, will be played at nine venues across Germany, with the group winners and runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals, ending with the final in Frankfurt on 17 July.