AUGSBURG, Germany -- Germany and England proved that timing is key at the women's World Cup, winning matches when it counts to top their respective groups.
With its greatest player benched because of to poor form, Germany didn't miss Birgit Prinz a bit. Two first-half headers compensated for some poor second-half defending to give the hosts a 4-2 win over France to win Group A. Celia Okoyino da Mbabi sealed the match with a fine volley late in the game.
"We showed class," Germany coach Silvia Neid said. "Now we are really into this tournament. The players showed what they are made of."
So did the Englishwomen.
The team staved off the threat of early elimination with a confidence-boosting 2-0 win over Japan. The victory gave it the top spot in Group B and produced a stunning goal for the World Cup highlights reel, a precise 21-yard lob from Ellen White.
The results set up Germany against Japan in Wolfsburg and England against France in Leverkusen on Saturday. Groups C and D will be decided Wednesday, with Brazil, Sweden and the United States already through. The Americans face the Swedes for first place in Group C.
Also Tuesday, New Zealand tied Mexico 2-2, and Nigeria beat Canada 1-0.
The day had the first red card, the first penalty kick, even the first blackout. But more importantly, the biggest benching of the tournament so far.
Prinz is the competition's all-time leading scorer with 14 goals and was expected to score in her fifth straight World Cup. After Germany's best performance so far, it was unclear whether Prinz's sullen demeanor would light up again for the next two weeks.