Frankfurt: Germany reached the Women`s World Cup quarterfinals, beating Nigeria 1-0 when Simone Laudehr scored on a thunderous volley during a 54th-minute goalmouth scramble in a surprisingly tight game.
Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer celebrated her 100th international appearance with a shutout. The host nation, which has won both its games, looked hardly convincing in the three-week tournament it is favored to win.
After France routed Canada 4-0 to also advance, Germany must beat its neighbor Tuesday if the two-time defending champions are to win Group A. Nigeria was eliminated along with Canada. The United States (1-0) plays Colombia in Group C on Saturday in Sinsheim.
"We are happy to advance, but we have to work on our game," Germany coach Sylvia Neid said.
With Nigeria needing a victory to stay in contention, Germany understood the task. But despite the support of a 48,817 sellout crowd, it managed little beyond territorial domination.
In a sometimes rough game that referee Cha Sung-mi had trouble controlling, Nigeria went head-to-head with Germany as much as possible but was unable to create many chances against the two-time defending champion.
Germany stuck with the same lineup as the one that beat Canada 2-1 in its opener, keeping star Birgit Prinz in front of her home crowd despite a disappointing opening game.
She was just as poor this time. After a missed overhead kick halfway through the game, she glanced at the sky in exasperation, knowing her poor form this season has extended into the World Cup. The 33-year-old Prinz needs one goal to become the first woman to score at least once in five World Cups. She leads the career list with 14 goals.
And once Neid removed Prinz, the game turned.
"I substituted her because I wanted more pressure upfield," Neid said.
Midfielder Celia Okoyino Da Mbabi swung in a low free kick from the left. A first stab for a goal was smothered and a shot from Alexandra Popp was blocked. But then Laudehr blasted the ball home.
Finally, the German flags went up in the stands and the roar was deafening. Germany was on its way to the quarterfinals.
"It didn`t go smoothly," Laudehr said. "We knew that they would be tough because they needed three points. They made our life difficult."
Even though Neid warned of a tough game, many fans thought otherwise. Germany beat Nigeria 8-0 in an exhibition game this season. Overall, Germany was 6-0 against Nigeria with a 21-2 goal differential. Germany was ranked No. 2, Nigeria No. 27.
Expectations of a romp, however, proved false. Nigeria made crunching tackles and was on edge all the time, not ready to leave the tournament easily.
But tougher opposition is coming for Germany, with France next.