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Culture

Germany Beats China in Olympics Opener

Led by Birgit Prinz, Germany thrashed China 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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Germany's soccer team played well in a hard-fought match against China

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

Germany charged past China

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 team, who won a bronze at the last Olympics in Sydney in 2000, a step closer to qualifying for the quarter-final, though they must 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 World Champions in 1999.

As in other championship soccer matches, the teams face off against each other in a round-robin elimination. The two best sides in the groups advance through the rounds until whittled down to just eight teams. "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 by the early victory. "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."