The German women's national soccer team and defending World Cup champions beat minnows Ireland 1-0 on Wednesday during a qualification game for the World Cup 2007 in China.
German Kerstin Stegemann (r.) fights with Irishwoman Michele O'Brien for the ball
The win marks the fourth victory for the team in four qualification games so far. The team led by coach Silvia Neid thus leads Group 4 with 12 points, followed by Russia with 9 points.
Watched by 9,200 spectators on a bright sunny day in the eastern German town of Cottbus, the game held few thrilling moments.
German striker Petra Wimbersky scores the winning goal
With both star striker Birgit Prinz and defense whiz Steffi Jones laid up with injuries, the German team began on a furious note and clinched the winning goal from Petra Wimbersky in the third minute. But the early goal failed to put the Germans at ease and play was marked by uninspired passes and lost chances.
During break, coach Silvia Neid was heard lecturing her team that they shouldn't underestimate "small" opponents Ireland, which is currently world number 32.
Even the second half failed to bring any relief, with a three-striker attack led by players from Turbine Potsdam, winner of Germany's DFB Cup, unable to really break through Ireland's tightly-focused defense.
Coach Silvia Neid was pleased
"The game was tiring," coach Neid said after the game. "We started well as planned. But then we made too many mistakes," she said. "But I can't accuse the team of not fighting enough or trying to score further."
The encounter marked the 273rd international game for the German women's team -- it was the first against Ireland -- and the 187th victory.
But it's evident that the team will have to do more if they want to repeat a World Cup victory next year. The qualification will continue with a return game against Ireland on home turf on August 26 and four days later the Germans will take on Switzerland.