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Defending Women's World Cup Champion Advances

Germany has defeated Japan, 2-0, to reach the quarterfinal round of the Women's World Cup football (soccer) tournament in China. VOA's Jim Stevenson was at the game in Hangzhou, where the defending champions seemed to struggle at times, despite playing a relatively weaker opponent.

Germany opened the scoring in Hangzhou's Dragon Stadium with a 21st minute strike from captain Birgit Prinz. The score was the 13th career goal for Prinz in a Women's World Cup game, making her the all-time scorer at the event. Her first goal came in the 1995 tournament.

The German women ran past the Japanese defenders for most of the game, but came up short on several scoring opportunities. Prinz told VOA sports that fact bothers her, and makes her record somewhat meaningless.

"Honestly, after the game it is not so important for me. And I was not satisfied with my game today," said Prinz.

German coach Silvia Neid was watching anxiously as her team clung to a one-goal lead for most of the game.

"We did not want to wait for the opponent to score a goal," said Neid. "So we tried to win this game. We tried to scores ourselves. We went for the second one. Especially for the midfield, it was not an easy game since they had to do a lot of running. But we prepared well and it showed on the pitch."

Germany's 2-0 victory puts the defending champions into the quarterfinal round as the best team from Group-A, with two wins and one draw. In Chengdu, England thrashed Argentina, 6-1, to place second with one win and two draws. Japan and Argentina are now eliminated.

Germany will next play the second place team from Group-B while England will face that group's winner. The United States and North Korea currently lead Group-B with one win and one draw each. They are also even on goal differential.

Tuesday, the Americans play Nigeria in Shanghai while North Korea faces Sweden in Tianjin.

The 16-nation Women's World Cup concludes September 30 in Shanghai.