Germany’s vastly experienced captain and star striker Alexandra Popp is featuring in her first ever Women’s Euro after missing the 2013 and 2017 tournaments due to injury.
Popp is making up for lost time, becoming only the second player ever to score in four consecutive Euro matches and sealing Germany’s 2-0 victory against Austria to seal its place in the semifinals with her 90th minute goal.
“I had a very hard time last year [with injury] – I’m very thankful to be here. I’m free, I feel good and I can help my team,” she told the BBC.
“We’re very happy to have very many fans here. We need the spirit, the support and that’s a very good feeling. We also feel the support from Germany; we’ll give our all to get to the final.”
Eight-time champion Germany began the match as the overwhelming favorite against Austria, playing in just its second ever Women’s Euro.
Austria, however, was the first to threaten with two scoring opportunities in the opening 15 minutes, but Julia Hickelsberger-Füller’s on-target shot was easily corralled by German goalkeeper Merle Frohms and Marina Georgieva’s header from a corner ricocheted off the woodwork.
After absorbing all this pressure, Germany capitalized on an Austrian mistake when goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger’s clearance was intercepted, Klara Bühl danced down the left wing and cut the ball inside to Lina Magull who made no mistake with the finish.
Germany had plenty of further chances to extend its lead.
On the stroke of halftime, Zinsburger made a crucial save to keep the score pegged at 1-0, and immediately after the break, the woodwork stopped an effort from Giulia Gwinn.
It seemed that these missed opportunities would prove costly as an outrageous 40-yard strike from Austria’s Barbara Dunst hung in the air, barreling towards the back of the net, but it too clipped the crossbar to deny her team an equalizer by the finest of margins.
“It’s a hard moment right after the game. When we look back, the team can feel very proud of how they have played, not just today, but throughout the tournament. We demanded everything from Germany,” said Austria head coach Irene Fuhrmann, according to UEFA.com
Four minutes later, yet another Austrian attack found the woodwork before Germany missed another two chances of its own to comfortably seal its place in the semifinals.
In the end, perhaps it was fitting that Popp – punishing a mistake from Zinsberger – was the only one whose radar found the net to confirm Germany’s victory.
“We played against a very good side. Huge compliments to Austria. The game could have ended 6-3. We are happy that we won the match,” said Germany’s coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, according to UEFA.com.
“We didn’t want to concede so many set pieces, but we did better in the second half. I still believe that we leave the pitch as deserved winners.”
Germany will now face either the Netherlands or France on July 27 for a place in the final.
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