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World Cup: Colombia floor Germany with last-gasp winner

July 30, 2023

Colombia produced a shock 2-1 victory over Germany at FIFA's Women's World Cup. A moment of class by teenager Linda Caicedo and a late, late winner by Manuela Vanegas left Germany beaten in Sydney.

Manuela Vanegas celebrates scoring the winning goal in Sydney.
Manuela Vanegas celebrates scoring the winning goal in Sydney.Image: Frank Fife/AFP/Getty Images

The roars were thunderous, the whistles ear-piercing, the jeers scolding. Thousands screamed for Germany's heads in the stands and Linda Caicedo delivered them on a platter.

Colombian hearts soared as the 18-year-old drifted through space, time and Germany's flailing defense in the 52nd minute.

She had been described as "on a different planet" after her performance against Korea. And while she only shone for perhaps 15 seconds in this match, it was enough to kickstart a historic victory over a shell-shocked Germany.

"You saw what she's capable of. She had this one moment and I have to tip my hat to her. She capitalized on this one moment, it was simply an incredible goal,"captain Alex Popp told DW.

Popp herself wasn't able to produce such a defining moment and was guilty of wasting a number of chances. Germany were ultimately punished for failing to capitalise on a performance which had the early signs of a gritty victory.

Promising first half lacks killer touch

Indeed, Germany looked completely comfortable in the first half, despite the sea of yellow, red and blue turning the Sydney Football Stadium into a home match for Colombia.

"About 90% of the fans were against us. It was almost impossible to coach," Merle Frohms said. "We had to use the breaks to regather but with such a volume it's simply impossible to give instructions."

Popp set the tone from the start, slyly nudging Jorelyn Carabali in the back just seconds in. Svenja Huth nullified Real Madrid wonderkid Caicedo as if she'd played as a fullback her entire career. Sara Doorsoun threw the shackles over the bulking form of Mayra Ramirez and didn't let loose.

Germany hunted in packs, smothering Colombia's midfield on the second balls. Jule Brand and Klara Bühl. Sara Däbritz and Lina Magull. Lena Oberdorf hunted solo, cleaning up, charging forward, raking her studs around balls, and sometimes feet, with clinical precision.

Returning from injury for her first match in this World Cup, Oberdorf created two glorious chances but both Lina Magull and Popp mis-hit their efforts to let Colombia off the hook.

"There was a feeling that we just didn't have the right timing to get the ball over the line," Popp said.

Colombia's Linda Caicedo celebrates scoring against Germany at the World Cup.
Colombia's Linda Caicedo has now scored twice at the World Cup.Image: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Off with their heads

While Germany certainly matched Colombia's physicality, it was clear their opponent's robust tactics had them rattled.

Carolina Arias led the charge, digging her hand into Popp's ribs and upending Merle Frohms in a corner contest, while captain Daniela Montoya elbowed Magull around the ears for good measure.

There was clear frustration among the Germans as they trudged off at halftime without a goal and with a few battered bodies. All they had to do was keep their heads and build on a promising first 45 minutes — but Caicedo re-entered the pitch with violence on her mind.

On 52 minutes, she dodged past an onrushing Huth with deft footwork, shifted past a static Däbritz with swagger and curled an unstoppable effort into the top corner.

It was one moment out of the blue. But it was enough to shift the dynamic of the game. Germany started to crumble, their heads awaiting the guillotine.

"It's magic, it's boom," Colombia keeper Catalina Perez told DW. "She's just a very special player and she just blows you away."

A late reprieve appeared to arrive in the 89th minute when Popp converted a penalty won by Oberdorf. But in the seventh of 14 injury-time minutes, Manuela Vanegas' header from a corner delivered the final blow.

Germany captain Alexandra Popp holds her head in her hands
Popp scored from the spot — but her missed first half chances ultimately cost Germany.Image: James Gourley/Shutterstock/IMAGO

Germany licking their wounds before Korea test

The loss was Germany's first during a World Cup group stage since 1995 and is a brutal wakeup call after they'd demolished Morocco 6-0 in their opener.

Doorsoun's withdrawal at halftime with a muscular problem also presents coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg with yet another headache. She's the latest defender to go down injured in Australia after Marina Hegering and Felicitas Rauch, while Germany flew Down Under without Caroline Simon and Giulia Gwinn.

"Overall the outcome is brutal. Now it's about recovering, healing our wounds and seeing what's the latest with our injured players," Voss-Tecklenburg told ARD.

"Then we want to fight again. We want to win the next game against South Korea and I'm still convinced we can make the round of 16."

Belief is still strong within the Germany camp as the players presented a determined front to the media scrum post-game. The performance wasn't terrible, but weaknesses have been exposed, injuries are piling up, and the team doesn't have long to screw their heads back on and turn around their fortunes.

Janek Speight Sports reporter and editor