SHANGHAI (AFP) - A ruthlessly efficient Germany tamed Brazil Sunday to win the World Cup final 2-0 with goals from Birgit Prinz and Simone Laudehr making them the first nation to successfully defend their title.
The Germans also owed a huge debt to unbeatable goalkeeper Nadine Angerer who saved a second-half penalty from World Player of the Year Marta, leaving the Brazilians numb.
The result meant Germany's watertight defence went through the entire tournament without conceding a goal.
Captain Prinz got the breakthough in front of a packed Hongkou Football Stadium after 52 minutes when the veteran Frankfurt forward found herself in acres of space when fed the ball by Sandra Smisek.
She thundered a shot on the turn from inside the box and it slid under the diving Andreia, who should have done better.
Brazil came back with a vengeance but no matter what they threw at impregnable Germany they couldn't find the equaliser, and Laudehr's bullet header four minutes from time put the game beyond their reach.
"I had a lot of confidence in my team and they worked very hard for each other. It was a great team performance," said ecstatic German coach Silvia Neid. "After the penalty save I felt it was meant to be our night."
She heaped praise on her defence, in particular, for keeping the dangerous Marta at bay.
"It was important to close down Marta and we did a very good job there."
Angerer added that "we were nervous but we felt we had the right to be world champions."
The Brazilians were chanting and singing before the start of the match to fire themselves up and Marta had the first chance of the game with her long range drive easily gathered by Angerer in the fourth minute.
Seconds later the action switched to the other end when Kerstin Garefrekes was set free on the right only to slice her shot into the side netting.
Brazil almost penetrated the German defence in the eighth minute when Angerer failed to collect Daniela's free kick. The ball bounced out to Formiga but she was unable to put the ball in the net.
The physically stronger Germans threw their weight around but the nimble Brazilians gave as good as they got, with the powerful Prinz unceremoniously barged off the ball at one point.
Both sides were creating chances and Daniela was desperately unlucky not to score when she clattered a left foot volley onto the post with Angerer beaten on 23 minutes.
Brazil had most of the possession and could sense they were getting the upper hand with Marta skipping through two defenders and into the box soon after only to lose control of the ball before she could unleash a shot.
The dynamic Germans came out for the second period with renewed drive and went close twice soon after the start before Prinz got the vital opening goal.
But it was Angerer who was the hero, saving Marta's spot kick with her knees in the 62nd minute after Cristiane was hacked down.
She kept them in the game again minutes later when she spectacularly saved a flying strike from substitute Rosana.
Brazil stepped it up in search of the equaliser but the Germans used their experience to stand firm and keep another clean sheet.
"This was a very tough match, we missed a lot of chances especially when we were 1-0 down and Marta missed a critical penalty," said Brazil coach Jorge Barcellos.
"But Germany took their chances and scored. I'm very sad about this result but my players tried their best."
In the third-place play-off, two-time champions the United States beat Norway 4-1.
Abby Wambach struck either side of the break with Lori Chalupny and Heather O'Reilly also weighing in before Ragnhild Gulbrandsen pulled one back for Norway.
|Coach: S. Neid|
for M. Behringer 74'
for S. Smisek 80'
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