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Thursday, August 26, 2004
Rottenberg, Lingor lead way

Associated Press

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.