England edges Germany to take third
EDMONTON, Alberta — Fara Williams scored on a penalty kick in the 108th minute, helping England beat Germany 1-0 on Saturday for third place in the Women's World Cup.
It was England's first win in 21 meetings against Germany, and secured the team's best finish in its four World Cup appearances. The victory over the top-ranked Germans came after a gut-wrenching 2-1 semifinal loss to Japan that was decided on an own goal on Wednesday.
Williams' goal was set up by a pass into the penalty area intended for Lianne Sanderson. As Sanderson turned to go after the ball, she was pulled down by Tabea Kemme.
On the penalty kick, Williams punched the ball just inside the left post, while goalkeeper Nadine Angerer faded the other way.
England had previously never won an elimination game, and finished this tournament with a 4-1-1 record.
Germany had several opportunities to tie the game in the final 10 minutes.
Anja Mittag, off a free kick just outside the penalty area, found an opening and got a shot off that was scooped up by goalkeeper Karen Bardsley.
In the 116th minute, Bianca Schmidt got behind England's defense and headed a cross just wide of the right post.
The two-time champion Germans were coming off a 2-0 loss to the United States on Tuesday. Their semifinal loss turned when Celia Sasic missed a penalty kick in the 59th minute, and the Americans took the lead on a penalty kick of their own 10 minutes later.
Germany dropped to 18-1-2 against England.
It marked only the third time Germany has lost two games in seven tournament appearances, and first time since losing the 1995 championship game to Norway.
It also was a disappointing end to the World Cup careers of German coach Silvia Neid and Angerer. Neid is retiring after the 2016 Rio Games, while Angerer is retiring from the national team following this tournament.
England avoided a big scare in the opening minutes when captain Steph Houghton made a clutch play to prevent an own goal.
Germany's Sara Daebritz sent a pass into the penalty area, and teammate Bianca Schmidt headed it toward the net. Unaware that Bardsley was preparing to catch the ball, Jo Potter leaped and got her head on it. The ball caromed toward the goal, where Houghton was facing the net and kicked it back over her head inches before it crossed the line.
It was reminiscent of how England lost to Japan, when Laura Bassett directed the ball into her own goal with a minute left in stoppage time.
After both teams had played games with on-field temperatures approaching 100, the weather was comparatively mild on Saturday. The game-time temperature was a comfortable 70. There was a moderate breeze, and the sun was hidden by an overcast sky for much of the game.
The Germans had the majority of the better scoring chances through the first 65 minutes. In the 53rd minute, Sasic broke up the right side and sent a pass through the middle to an open Daebritz. She got a solid shot off that was stopped by Bardsley, who made a diving save to her right.
Houghton had the Lionesses' best scoring chance of the first half in the 12th minute. She was set up 8 yards out, and got a weak shot toward the net, which Angerer stopped.
England finally began applying consistent pressure during a three-minute span late in the second half, only to be foiled by German's well-positioned defenders.
In the 77th, Jill Scott was all alone to the left of the net. Faking a shot, Scott pulled Angerer out of position, and then took a shot at the open net that was blocked by Saskia Bartusiak. Karen Carney then fed a cross through the middle, and Scott just missed tapping it in at the left post.