Germany triumphs 2-1 in World Cup opener at home

By CIARAN FAHEY | June 26, 2011 | 3:15 PM EDT

Soccer ball shaped balloons are released during the opening ceremony prior to the group A match between Germany and Canada at the Women’s Soccer World Cup in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, June 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany made a grand start to the Women's World Cup on Sunday, defeating Canada 2-1 before a capacity crowd of 73,680 at Olympic Stadium.

Kerstin Garefrekes and Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi scored for the host nation in the official opening game. Christine Sinclair, who played most of the second half with a broken nose, scored for Canada with a free kick in the 82nd minute.

That was the first goal the two-time defending champions have conceded in the World Cup since 2003. Canada has lost to Germany all 10 times these teams have met.

The game took place after an opening ceremony in which a globe was "peeled" to reveal a mirror ball reflecting fans in festive mood. Hundreds of helium soccer balls were then released to the sky.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Christian Wulff and FIFA President Sepp Blatter were among those at the game. Hours earlier in Sinsheim, France defeated 1-0 in Sinsheim, the first game of the three-week tournament.

Germany attacked from the start of the Group A game, posing trouble for the Canadian defense with the first corner kick in the second minute. In the sixth minute, Sinclair should have scored for Canada against the run of play, but she fired over the bar with only Germany goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to beat.

At the other end, Erin McLeod pulled off a great save to deny Behringer. There was little she could do to stop Garefrekes in the 10th minute when the midfielder rose to meet Babett Peter's deep cross.

A well-organized German defense restricted Canada to free kicks and corners before Diana Matheson shot just over the net in the 29th. Okoyino Da Mbabi almost scored moments later for Germany before Behringer fired over in the 40th.

Okoyino Da Mbabi — who turns 23 Monday — struck in the 42nd when she raced onto Garefrekes' through ball and picked her spot, giving McLeod no chance.

Birgit Prinz was unable to add to her World Cup tally of 14 career goals, but received thunderous applause when she was removed for Alexandra Popp in the 56th.

Popp grazed the crossbar with a long shot in the 65th and unselfishly played Garefrekes through a minute later, only for the midfielder to hook the ball over from one yard.

Canada looked short of ideas and it appeared only a matter of time before a dominant Germany added another. Sinclair's free kick, however, finally cracked the mighty German defense.