Thursday, August 26, 2004
Rottenberg, Lingor lead way
ATHENS, Greece -- Women's World Cup champion Germany settled
for bronze at the Olympics, beating Sweden 1-0 on Thursday on Renate
Lingor's goal and a spectacular game from goalkeeper Silke
Rottenberg in her 100th international appearance.
Rottenberg's milestone was commemorated with flowers and a
pennant from FIFA president Sepp Blatter before kickoff, and the
34-year-old German remained the star during the game with three
tough saves in a two-minute span in the first half and two more
great stops after halftime.
The game was a rematch of last year's World Cup final, won by
Germany 2-1 in overtime. Germany lost in the Olympics semifinals
2-1 to the United States in overtime this week, while Sweden
dropped a 1-0 game to Brazil.
Germany also won the bronze four years ago in Sydney.
The Swedes can blame their fourth-place finish on a lack of
offense; they scored just four goals in five games.
Lingor scored in the 17th minute, charging to meet a left-wing
cross from Conny Pohlers with a 12-yard, right-footed shot that
deflected off the hands of goalkeeper Caroline Joensson. Joensson
dropped to her knees and stared at her gloves in disbelief as the
ball bounced into the net.
The real excitement came shortly afterward, when Rottenberg made
three difficult stops in three different runs. She made a sliding
left-footed kick save of Hanna Ljungberg's diving header, pushed
away a hard shot from Ljungberg from less than 12 yards, then
leaped to tip Frida Oestberg's header over the crossbar.
In the second half, Rottenberg knocked Ljungberg's 12-yard drive
high in the air, then raced to catch the ball before Ljungberg
could follow the shot. In the 71st minute, Rottenberg dived right
to stop Malin Andersson's 30-yard free kick just inside the post.
Germany had several chances to take a two-goal lead. One of the
best came late in the first half when Pohlers' header was punched
upward by Joensson. The ball struck the underside of the crossbar
and came straight down, and Joensson nearly fumbled the catch
across the goal line.