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Angerer triumphs in test of nerve

  • Story Highlights
  • Nadine Angerer becomes first GK to go through World Cup without conceding
  • German keeper saves Marta's penalty in the final as her side beat Brazil 2-0
  • Angerer also breaks Walter Zenga's World Cup record of 517 goalless minutes
  • Her heroics earn her FIFA "player of the match" honors in the final
  • Next Article in World Sport »
By Simon Hooper for CNN
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(CNN) -- If Sunday's World Cup final was a battle between Brazilian flair and German resilience then the players who best encapsulated those qualities were the South Americans' brilliant forward Marta and German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer.

Nadine Angerer dives to her right to stop Marta's penalty in Sunday's World Cup final.

While Marta was the most exciting player of the tournament, scoring the goal of the competition in Brazil's 4-0 win over the U.S. and winning both FIFA's "Golden Shoe" for best player and "Golden Boot" for top scorer, Angerer had marshalled Germany's defense so superbly that she hadn't even been beaten going into the title match.

It was appropriate then that the pivotal moment of the final would see these two players pitched against each other in a personal test of nerve when Brazil, soon after falling behind to Birgit Prinz's opening goal in the second half, were awarded a penalty which Marta stepped up to take.

Marta struck the penalty well enough towards the corner, but Angerer -- second guessing her -- already had her entire body behind the ball as she threw herself at full-stretch to steer it from danger.

"I watched Marta's penalty against Australia when she went left," Angerer told afterwards. "I thought this time she would go right so I decided to wait as long as possible and it was the right decision."

Angerer was back in action a few minutes later, displaying incredible athleticism to touch a goalbound freekick onto the post -- at almost the exact moment that she was surpassing Italian goalkeeper Walter Zenga's 1990 World Cup record of 517 tournament minutes without conceding a goal.

The saves were characteristic of the determination and competitive spirit of the Turbine Potsdam player who, at 175cms (5 ft 8 ins), hardly stands tall even for a female footballer but makes up for her lack of height in agility, speed and anticipation.

While Brazil continued to press in search of an equalizer, those two saves seemed to break their resolve, leaving Angerer to play out the rest of the match to become the first keeper, male or female, to go through an entire World Cup without conceding a goal.

Angerer's final heroics also earned her "player of the match" honors although afterwards, in the spirit of the German performance, she was happy to deflect attention onto the team's achievements.

"I'd put it like this: what I was lucky enough to experience today was the sporting highlight of my life so far,"she said.

"I'm happy about not conceding a goal but this is the result of a team effort. I'm proud of what we achieved and I'm proud of the whole team." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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