Germany on course to avoid US after tight Spain win

Spain’s Patri Guijarro, left, in action with Germany’s Alexandra Popp. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2019

Germany on course to avoid US after tight Spain win

VALENCIENNES, France: Germany brushed off the absence of injured star player Dzsenifer Marozsan to beat Spain 1-0 on Wednesday and take control of Group B in the women’s World Cup, virtually assuring themselves of missing the rampant US in the last 16.

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Sara Daebritz earned the Germans a hard-fought three points by pouncing three minutes before the break ahead of dithering Spain defender Marta Torrejon, who only had to clear the ball after her goalkeeper Sandra Panos did well to save Alexandra Popp’s header.

The win puts Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side three points clear of Spain and one better on goal difference after narrow victories in both their group matches and means they need a point against South Africa — who play China in Paris on Thursday — on Saturday to be completely sure of topping the group.

That would leave whoever finished second below them to face the Americans, who were in ominous form on Tuesday as they racked up a record 13-0 win over Thailand, while the Germans would take one of the four best third-placed finishers who will make the last 16.

Second-placed Spain, who were wasteful despite dominating possession and will rue Nahikari Garcia somehow slicing wide when clean through in the 14th minute, should still qualify but face a trickier test against the Chinese, who ran Germany close in their opening 1-0 defeat.

Earlier Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby hailed forward Asizat Oshoala as “special” after her goal helped the Super Falcons to a 2-0 win over South Korea and took them close to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

Oshoala struck 15 minutes from the end with a super burst and finish to seal the win after a comical own goal from Kim Do-yeon, who somehow hooked a long ball back past onrushing goalkeeper Kim Min-jung, had put Nigeria ahead in the 29th minute.

“She’s very special because no-one has the speed she has,” the Swede said the lightning quick 24-year-old after a huge win, just their second in the World Cup since 1999.

“It’s important for the team because you can create a chance from nothing, even a clearance can be a goalscoring opportunity.”

The victory for Dennerby’s side left the unfortunate South Koreans pointless after their first two games in Group A and put Nigeria level with France and Norway on three ahead of their crunch clash in Nice later on Wednesday.

Nigeria can now legitimately hope for a place in the last 16 regardless of what happens in their last group match against the tournament-hosting French thanks to the best third-placed teams going through.

The three points they have could well be enough to see the Super Falcons through to the knockout rounds for the first time since 1999, when they reached the quarter-finals in the US.


Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

Updated 18 October 2019

Jason Day shoots 66, trails by 2 strokes at CJ Cup

JEJU ISLAND, SOUTH KOREA : Jason Day’s attempt to impress International team captain Ernie Els for a spot at the Presidents Cup took a positive turn on Thursday when the Australian shot a 6-under 66 to sit two strokes off the lead after the opening round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges.

In the first event of a three-tournament PGA Tour swing through Asia, Byeong Hun An took the lead with a 64 with Joaquin Niemann a stroke behind in second. Day was alone in third place.

Day is hoping Els will choose him as a captain’s pick for the International team against the Tiger Woods-captained US team in December at Royal Melbourne.

“Overall, it’s a great start,” Day said. “I’m excited for the rest of the week.”

He said before his first round that he was still hoping for a Presidents Cup spot.

“It is certainly disappointing not to make the team on my own merits. But it is a reminder that nothing is given to you in this game,” Day said.

“I certainly want to be on the team and believe I can be an asset to the Internationals. Being in my home country certainly gives me an edge and I’ve had some success on the sand-belt (courses) and Royal Melbourne in the past.”

Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 with an eagle on the 18th, his final hole. Last year’s runner-up Gary Woodland had a 71.

Justin Thomas, who won the inaugural 2017 CJ Cup, shot 68 and Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth each shot 70. Spieth is looking to end a lengthy drought — he hasn’t won since the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale, a span of 54 tournaments worldwide.

“Overall a good way to start. I felt I played a lot better than my score,” Thomas said. “Anytime you play where you’ve won before, it creates a lot of good memories.”

Kevin Na, who won in a playoff in Las Vegas two weeks ago, had a 72 and Sergio Garcia shot 73.

There are 78 players in the no-cut, limited-field event.

The top-ranked Koepka stirred some controversy on Wednesday when he pointed out that Rory McIlroy, his closest challenger for the No. 1 ranking, has not won a major since the American joined the PGA Tour in 2015. He was responding to a question about a rivalry between the pair.

“I’m not looking at anybody behind me. I’m No. 1 in the world,” Koepka said. “I’ve got open road in front of me. I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry. I’ve been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour.”