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Culture

Germans Drub China in Women's Soccer Opener

Germany's women thrashed their Chinese counterparts with an unexpected 8-0 win Wednesday at the Athens Olympics women's soccer opener, providing a thrilling start to the Games.

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The euphoric Germans are eyeing gold at Athens

Germany's internationally-acclaimed soccer player Birgit Prinz scored four goals at Wednesday's opening game, firmly setting the German women's soccer team on an optimistic path at the Athens Olympics.

The center forward from the club 1. FFC Frankfurt headed the first two German goals in the 13th and 21st minute past the reach of Chinese goalkeeper Zhen Xiao.

Attractive game

The strong early lead provided by Prinz emboldened the German women, who provided the 4,000-strong crowd with an attractive game marked by the Germans' superior physical strength and clever tactics.

The Chinese, who won 1-0 against the Germans in Fürth, Germany in April hardly looked dangerous in Wednesday's game.

Birgit Prinz

The FIFA Women's Soccer Player of the Year, Birgit Prinz.

Prinz also shot two further winners that took Germany to a 4-0 and then a comfortable 7-0 lead. Just hours before the game, Prinz had been selected Germany's women soccer player of the year for the fourth time in a row.

Her Frankfurt club colleague, midfielder Pia Wunderlich scored the third goal for Germany in the 64th minute, Renate Lingor got into the act with a free penalty kick taking Germany to a 5-0 lead over the Chinese, forward Conny Pohlers raised the tally to 6-0 after a pass from Martina Müller just ten feet in front of the net.

Müller clinched the final goal in the 90th minute with an elegant kick to her left in front of the goalpost.

Unexpected surprise

Wednesday's resounding victory takes the German women's world champions, who won a bronze at the last Olympics in Sydney in 2000, a step closer to qualifying for the quarter-final, though they first take on Mexico in the second game next Tuesday.

The German team has faced Mexico just once before and that proved to be a walkover for the Germans -- a 6-0 win at the European Champions in 1999. Germany is in the F group along with China and Mexico. The two best sides in the group of three reach the round of the eight best teams.

Athen 2004, Olympia, Frauenfussball, China gegen Deutschland

German striker Birgit Prinz (left)fights for the ball against Chinas Li Jie

"Today we lay the first stone on the way up the stairway," Lingor said. "We always said that we wanted to achieve something here."

Even German women's soccer national coach Tina Theune-Meyer was positively surprised.

"I never reckoned with this result," she said. "The team's improved form was evident during the past training periods, but I never dreamed of something like this." The German-Chinese encounter was the opening game of the Athens Olympics. The game at the Pampeloponnisiako Stadium in Patras took off two days after opening ceremonies on Friday and was the first among four simultaneously played matches to be whistled off.

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