Germany draws Brazil in Group F opener
SHENYANG, China(AP) Olympic title contenders Brazil and Germany drew 0-0 Wednesday in the Group F opener in women's football at the Beijing Games.
The Germans kept FIFA player of the year Marta from threatening during most of the match, but failed to capitalize on their own scoring opportunities. Sandra Smisek hit the crossbar with a header in the 23rd minute, while Renata Costa hit the post with a header for Brazil in the 63rd.
It was the first match between the teams since last year's World Cup final, when Germany came out on top for its second consecutive world title.
Germany and Brazil are trying to win the Olympic gold for the first time. Germany finished with bronze at Sydney in 2000 and at Athens in 2004, while Brazil earned silver in Athens and was fourth in Sydney and at Atlanta in 1996.
The other teams in the group are North Korea and Nigeria, which are also scheduled to play later at Shenyang Olympic Stadium.
The Olympic football tournament began two days before Friday's opening ceremony in Beijing to accommodate its lengthy schedule.
The teams played an even match at the 60,000-capacity Shenyang Olympic Stadium, which was far from packed.
Marta was kept in check for most of the match, but had two great chances at the end and was still Brazil's most dangerous player. First, she missed from just in front of goal. Then, she had a shot stopped by goalkeeper Nadine Angerer after an elusive run past several defenders.
Brazil almost scored in the fourth minute when Daniela's curling free kick fooled Angerer and nearly went in.
Germany's first chance came in the seventh minute, when Kerstin Garefrekes' cross into the area was just tipped away by goalkeeper Andreia.
Marta drew cheers from the crowd for the first time in the 12th, dribbling past a defender on the left flank before setting up striker Cristiane for a close-range header that went over the bar. Seven minutes later, Marta's header also missed wide.
In Germany's most dangerous scoring chances, Smisek's close-range header brushed off the bar, and Birgit Prinz's right-footed kick in the 41st just missed wide.
Brazil midfielder Formiga had a chance in the 53rd, curling a shot that almost went in the upper-right corner. Three minutes later, Annike Krahn's header off a corner went just wide for Germany.
Smisek had a great chance to score in the 61st, but she missed despite having only Andreia to beat inside the area.
Brazil came right back, first with Cristiane's shot being deflected wide by Angerer, and then with Renata Costa's header off the ensuing corner striking the post.
Marta shot wide when faced with an open goal in the 68th after Angerer had failed to control the ball in front of the net. She went close again in the 83rd, when her shot from the top of the area was saved by Angered, who made another stop in the 86th after Marta went past several defenders.