Celia Sasic picked a bad time for Germany’s first missed penalty kick in the Women’s World Cup.
Sasic shot it wide to her left – even as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo dove the other way – on a penalty kick after a foul in the box in the 59th minute of Tuesday night’s semifinal against the United States.
Ten minutes after the miss by the leading goal scorer in the World Cup, the Americans converted a penalty kick, breaking the scoreless tie on their way to a 2-0 victory.
“It’s not the reason we lost the game, because of her,” forward Anja Mittag said. “She was the reason we’re here to play in the semifinal.”
The United States will play for the championship in Vancouver against the winner of Wednesday night’s semifinal between England and Japan. Germany will play the loser in the consolation game in Edmonton on Saturday.
“Tonight, I believe it will be very hard for all of us,” Germany coach Silvia Neid said. “But of course we would also like to have a nice conclusion of this tournament.”
The top-ranked Germans had been 17 for 17 on World Cup penalty kicks, including all five in a tiebreaker to beat France in the quarterfinal. Sasic converted twice in that match – once in regulation, and again for the game-winner.
“Of course, today, she missed,” Neid said. “There’s always ups and downs in sport.”
Sasic has six goals in Germany’s first five games, one more than Mittag and France’s Eugenie Le Sommer. That’s why Neid picked Sasic to take the shot after Julie Johnston pulled Alexandra Popp down from behind in the penalty box.
But after missing, she buried her face in her hands while the U.S.-favoring crowd burst into cheers. Sasic declined to answer questions from the English-speaking media in the mix zone at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
“We will support her,” Neid said.
The game was scoreless in the 59th minute when Johnston tried to gather in the ball with her chest at the edge of the penalty area.
Popp got behind her, and Johnston pulled her down rather than allow her to advance one-on-one against Solo – a potential red card that would have forced the Americans to finish the game with 10 players.
“The rule says yes, but she didn’t get a red card,” Neid said.
Referee Teodoro Albon of Romania instead booked Johnston with a yellow card and awarded Germany the penalty kick.
Sasic lined it up but booted it wide of the goal.
In the 67th minute, U.S. forward Alex Morgan was upended by defender Annike Krahn in the German end, with her momentum landing her in the penalty area. Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer was already planning to line her teammates up in a wall to defend a free kick, but Albon pointed to the penalty spot.
“It was clearly outside the penalty area and it could be seen quite clearly on the television,” Neid said, who was then asked why she wasn’t more upset about the call that went against her team.
“Of course, I’m very, very sad about this, that this penalty shot decided the match. What am I going to do, though? A referee decision is something I have to live with. I am very sad about it, but I cannot change it.”
Carli Lloyd converted the penalty kick, giving the Americans a 1-0 lead. They made it 2-0 in the 84th minute on a goal by Kelley O'Hara.
“If you do not score a penalty and then a penalty is scored against you a few minutes later, you have to try to find a way back in the game,” Neid said. “We are among the best four teams in the world, and anybody knows in a tournament it depends on many factors. Maybe it depends on the penalty, maybe not.”