HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Legendary striker Birgit Prinz fired defending champions Germany into the World Cup quarter-finals here Monday, scoring one goal and playing a crucial role in their 2-0 victory over Japan.
Prinz, the triple world player of the year, struck in the 21st minute to shatter Japan's dreams of appearing in their first finals in 12 years.
Renate Lingor then nailed victory in the 87th minute by coolly converting a penalty, after teammate Martina Mueller was brought down inside the area.
The victory launches Germany, ranked two in the world, into the last eight after finishing top of Group A. Japan were edged out by England who thumped Argentina 6-1 in the other group game played Monday.
It also sends Prinz, playing in her fourth World Cup, into the history books by surpassing retired American footballer Michelle Akers as the most prolific scorer in World Cups, with 13 goals.
German coach Silvia Neid saluted her charges, saying they were strong in both attack and defensive with plenty of scoring shots.
"I'm very happy with the performance of our team, we reached the quarter finals, that's what we were aiming for," said Neid.
"We played well against a strong opponent, we created a lot of chances, nevertheless, in the quarter-final we have to add a little bit to our performance, because we will face a very tough opponent."
Germany must await the outcome of Tuesday's matches in Group B before knowing who they face next, with the United States, North Korea and Sweden fighting for two spots in the knockout stages.
With Prinz leading the charge, European champions Germany took command of the match in the opening minutes, cutting through Japan's defence like butter and bombarding the goal with shots.
Forward Petra Wimbersky should have scored in the third minute, latching onto a lightning quick pass inside the area, but goalkeeper Miho Fukumoto just tipped her thundering shot over the bar.
Kerstin Garefrekes fired off a missile two minutes later that went high, and came close near half-time when her shot was blocked by a charging and under pressure Fukumoto.
But it was Prinz who did the damage, lurking on the edge of the penalty box to meet Lingor's corner which she rifled into the net on her second touch.
Neid brought on 19-year-old sensation Fatmire Bajramaj to add penetration in the second half, but the Germans could not break down Japan's defence which became increasingly dogged. Fukumoto kept her cool and a string of fine saves earned her player of the match.
Even so, Germany came agonisingly close in the 73rd minute when Smisek cutback to Wimbersky who just launched her shot over the bar.
Lingor finally struck by firing her penalty shot into the right hand corner of the net past a diving Fukumoto.
Japanese coach Hiroshi Ohashi said he blamed himself for the loss.
"For 90 minutes we played very well," he said. "But we are disapppointed not to be going to the quarter-finals and as head coach of the Japanese national team, I feel responsible."
|Fabregas clears the air with Ramos|
|Cavani urges Ligue 1 focus|
|Olsson out until new year|
|Sao Paulo´s Toloi confident ahead of second leg|
|Aguero our ´special player´, says Kompany|
|APOEL eye Europa League despite winless road streak|
|Silva disappointed by ´childish´ errors|
|Slutsky happy to keep ´intrigue´ alive|
|A-League Preview: Brisbane begin life after Mulvey|
|Eredivisie Preview: Ajax targeting improvement|
|Shakhtar did not lack motivation - Shevchuk|
|Bayern lament two errors, Guardiola proud|
|Valcke: It will ´take years´ to rebuild FIFA´s reputation|
|Luis Enrique ´never fed up´ of Messi magic|
|Valverde pleased with Bilbao triumph|
|Messi revels in Champions League milestone|
|Loss was a ´crying shame´ - De Boer|
|Suarez relieved to get off the mark for Barca|
|Pellegrini puts Aguero among best in the world|
|Cavani wants top spot|
|Howedes sorry for Schalke collapse|
|Sporting Lisbon 3 Maribor 1: Slimani helps fire hosts into second place|
|Concord Rangers 0 Mansfield Town 1: Palmer edges League Two side through|
|Mourinho salutes ´complete´ Chelsea after Schalke stroll|
|Lopetegui revels in Porto professionalism|
|MK Dons 2 Rochdale 2: Green rescues hosts a point|
|Manchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Aguero the hero as City rekindle Champions League dream|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 0 Athletic Bilbao 1: Hosts qualify despite poor performance|
|Paris Saint-Germain 3 Ajax 1: Strike duo terrorise Dutch side|
|APOEL 0 Barcelona 4: Messi breaks record after Suarez opener|
|Schalke 0 Chelsea 5: Blues clinch top spot in style|
|Serbia turn to Curcic|
|Inter v Dnipro: Juan wants early qualification|
|Sporting-Maribor delayed as lights go out in Lisbon|
|Garcia upbeat despite late setback|
|The making of Lionel Messi: How it all started for the Champions League´s record goalscorer|
|Tottenham v Partizan: Pochettino´s men look to seal qualification|
|Messi breaks Champions League scoring record|
|Wolfsburg v Everton: Distin buoyed by good run|
|Allegri expects improved away display|
|Rodgers: First goal crucial for Liverpool confidence|
|CSKA Moscow 1 Roma 1: Late leveller keeps Russians in the hunt|
|Ancelotti not worried about record|
|BATE 0 Porto 3: Belarusians knocked out but go into the record books|
|Klopp looking forward to Champions League distraction|
|Parish urges Warnock to stop ref rage|
|UEFA Europa League Preview: Celtic and Inter seek home wins to advance|
|Diame could make Hull return on Saturday|
|QPR lose Sandro to knee injury|
|Juanmi fractures arm|
|Wilshere out for ´a while´ - Wenger|
|Wenger hits back at Usmanov|
|De Jong back in training for Newcastle|
|Chelsea ´head and shoulders´ above rest - Giggs|
|Stevens returns to Stuttgart|
|Cheltenham sack Yates|
|Giggs open to United exit to further career|
|Sampaoli relaxed after Copa America draw|
|Pekerman eyes Copa America revenge|
|Time for City to produce - Nasri|
|Copa Sudamericana Preview: River search for form ahead of Superclasico|
|K. League Preview: Cup winners Seongnam eye safety|
|Argentine Primera Division Review: Racing Club beat River Plate to go top|
|Guardiola: Desperate City are dangerous|
|Paraguayan Division Profesional Review: Libertad back on top as Cerro Porteno slip up|
|Brazil to meet Colombia at Copa America|
|Koeman backs ´great´ Forster|
|Lambert delighted with makeshift Villa defence|
|Koeman remains confident of top-four finish|
|Granada 0 Almeria 0: Visitors hold on to move out of bottom three|
|Genoa 1 Palermo 1: Hosts rue Pinilla miss in lively draw|
|Aston Villa 1 Southampton 1: Saints spoil Lambert´s 100th game|
|No let-up from Bayern - Guardiola|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Besiktas and Fenerbahce gridlocked, Yanal makes winning start|
|Basel v Real Madrid: Ancelotti approaching winning record|
|Russian Premier League Review: Zenit extend advantage, Torpedo win marred|
|Mourinho not interested in Reus|
|Pellegrini dismisses Messi rumours|
|Anderlecht v Galatasaray: Faint hopes remain alive in Belgium|
|Luis Enrique: Barca must beat APOEL|
|Indian Super League Preview: Materazzi keen to maintain momentum, Goa host Kerala|
|Arsenal v Borussia Dortmund: Klopp visits Emirates amid switch rumours|
|Fer concerned by QPR away form|
|Shakhtar must not underestimate Athletic - Lucescu|
|Indian Super League Review: Chennaiyin well-placed for post-season, Delhi win|
|Atletico Madrid v Olympiacos: Atleti on the brink of last 16|
|Dragons take American football player on trial|
|Di Matteo has no thoughts of Chelsea revenge|
|Vermaelen could require surgery|
|Destiny in Roma´s hands - Garcia|
|Ludogorets v Liverpool: Rodgers demands improvement|
|Malmo v Juventus: Pogba issues rallying cry|
|Blanc demands killer instinct against Ajax|
|Bayer Leverkusen v Monaco: Germans looking to progress|
|Aguero and Jovetic fit to face Bayern|
|Ancelotti reveals contract talks|
|Slutsky targeting Champions League last 16|
|PSV receive Guardado boost|
|Ter Stegen waiting for Barcelona chance|
|Allardyce hopeful Carroll can stay injury-free|
|Arsenal must be ruthless - Arteta|
|Veh resigns from struggling Stuttgart|
|Juventus have ´more quality´ this season, says Pogba|
|Copa America win can restore Brazil´s confidence – Marin|
|Lallana issues rallying cry|
|Fritz confident Bremen can turn things around|
|Bruce backing Hull to stay out of trouble|
|Lambert determined to transform Villa|
|Valdez: Suarez needs ´miracle´ for Copa America|
|Real Madrid heading to Australia for ICC|
|Martinez: Lukaku can become ´best striker in the world´|
|Koeman slams ´crazy´ Christmas fixture list|
|Iniesta, Vermaelen unavailable for Cyprus trip|
|Zenit v Benfica: Pereira, Lima set to return for Portuguese champions|
|Inzaghi sorry for derby stalemate|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Medellin on cusp of final, Santa Fe deny Huila|
|Mancini ´very happy´ with derby draw|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Sporting Cristal beaten|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: Late Blooming spark sends Oriente second|
|Venezuelan Primera Division Review: Trujillanos stay top, Metropolitanos embarrassed|
|Liga MX Review: Pachuca, Pumas UNAM reach play-offs|
|MLS Review: Wins for Galaxy, Revolution|
|Ecuadorian Primera A Review: Top three fail to score, Olmedo win big|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro retain title|
|Chilean Primera Division Review: Universidad Chile held, Colo Colo go top|
|Costa Rican Primera Division Review: Cartagines into fourth|
|Uruguayan Primera Division Review: Champions Nacional win again|