Germany served notice of their intentions of claiming a third title as they advanced to the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup on Saturday with a confident 4-1 victory over Sweden.
Forwards Celia Sasic and Anja Mittag both scored their fifth goals of the tournament as the top-ranked Germans closed down their fifth-ranked European rivals in scorching conditions at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium.
Sasic scored twice with Mittag and Dzsenifer Marozsan also on target to put the 2003 and 2007 champions through to the last eight for the seventh time in as many editions of the tournament.
Germany coach Silvia Neid described the victory as “a very important game, maybe a key match” in the tournament.
“We haven’t had games of this quality in the World Cup apart from Norway,” said Neid, whose group had included minnows Ivory Coast and Thailand.
“You could not let up, we had to play like that against Sweden. They did well but we didn’t allow them to make much of it.
“We were clearly the better team. Congratulations to our team for an outstanding performance.”
The 30-year-old Mittag set Germany on their way in the 24th minute with a solo run following a poor pass in the Swedish defence for her fifth goal in four matches.
And 12 minutes later Sasic got her first when she slotted in a contentious penalty awarded for a foul on Mittag inside the box by her former FC Rosengard teammate Amanda Ilestedt.
“If you want to win that kind of game when Germany are playing that well you need everything going your way and it did not,” said Sweden coach Pia Sundhage.
– Olympics in doubt –
Sofia Jakobsson nearly pulled one back for the Swedes seconds before half-time but could not manage to keep her header down.
Sasic grabbed her second on 78 minutes when her diving header gave her a fifth goal of the tournament after Simone Laudehr’s initial effort had come back off the post.
Defender Linda Sembrant got one back for the Swedes with eight minutes to go, but Marozsan connected with a sliding shot that went over a diving Lindahl two minutes from time.
“Right now I’m way too emotionally sad to analyse it. I don’t want to say anything that I regret later,” said Sundhage.
“Germany is a very good team, they deserve to advance. We fought, we tried but it was not good enough.”
Germany, who were shocked in the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Cup at home, next play either France or South Korea, who clash in Montreal on Sunday, for a place in the semi-finals.
Sweden return home without a win after advancing to the last 16 as one of the best third-place finishers following three draws in their group.
The result could also have implications on their bid to qualify for the Rio Olympics next year.
“If that’s the case it will be the first time we’re not competing in the Olympics,” said Sundhage, who lead the United States to Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012.
It is the third time that Germany have gotten past their European rivals in a major competition in recent years.
In 2003 Germany won the world title by beating Sweden with a golden goal in the final, while Germany beat Sweden 1-0 in the semi-finals on their way to the European title.