Germany booked their place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2022 and topped Group B after a clinical 2-0 win over Spain at Brentford Community Stadium.
The Germans again showed why they are considered among the tournament favorites by securing three points with two goals in the first half.
It took just three minutes for their pressing play to come back with a vengeance, having been so effective against Denmark. A poor clearance from Spain keeper Sandra Panos saw Klara Buhl with the ball at her feet and made it count as she sent Germany past.
In the 36th minute, Alexandra Popp scored her second consecutive Euros goal in as many appearances, nodding expertly from Felicitas Rauch’s corner to finally seal Germany’s way to the quarter-finals.
It was a match that showed how much Spain miss star players Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso. They looked like a classic Spanish side with smooth passing, wonderful attacking play and plenty of possession – but they lacked the edge, having just three shots on target.
They will now face Denmark on Saturday in a back-to-back shootout for second place in the quarter-finals. The winner will face England at Brighton on Wednesday night.
Spain could have retaliated shortly after Germany’s opener. Patricia Guijarro’s defensive pass embodied all the good things about Spain, with Aitana Bonmati running over it. She then found Lucia Garcia, who rounded goalkeeper Merle Frohms but could only break her effort into the side of the net.
Jorge Vilda’s side continued to dominate possession with easy-to-watch football. Guijarro, Garcia and Mariona Caldentey played neat one-touch football on the edge of the box, before the latter sent an effort wide.
Spain were arguably unfortunate to concede a second just before the break for their game, but lacked the edge that Hermoso and Putellas so reliably provided.
Popp fired a warning shot in the opening seconds after half-time and was soon embroiled in a controversial moment which could have seen Spain down to ten players. As Popp looked to run on a forward pass, she struggled with Irene Paredes and was pulled down.
She appealed for a red card but experienced referee Stephanie Frappart dismissed the claims, with VAR also failing to review the decision.
Spain kept looking for their goal and Germany goalkeeper Merle Frohms made one of the saves of the tournament so far in the 71st minute. Guijarro lifted a sublime long pass into the box for Caldentey’s run, but the latter’s volley was expertly repelled but an inspired Frohms.
Germany had the ball in the back of the net for the third time shortly before the end of the game, but Tabea Wassmuth was flagged for offside long after the incident. Seems like a close – but correct – call from the linesman.
But luckily for Germany, they didn’t need a third to secure their victory as they headed to the knockout stages.
What the managers said…
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: “The players had a big challenge, yesterday was a very difficult day, the euphoria of the game was gone and then the Covid affair [Lea Schuller]… some players were worried even now, we don’t know what will happen in the next few days.
“I was fighting with the team from the touchline. Maybe I didn’t run as much as them, but I also gave my all.”
Spain coach Jorge Vilda: “I hope it helps us for the next game and for the future. We have to prepare ourselves mentally. After the goal, we maybe played our best 30 minutes.
“I think that we [applied ourselves]; the team has been consistent. Now is the time to recover and prepare for the game against Denmark, when we play to reach the quarter-finals.”
Germany complete their group stage against Finland on Saturday at Stadium MK; kick off at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, Spain will return to Brentford Community Stadium to face Denmark.
Germany have now booked a place in the quarter-finals on Thursday, July 21, against the runners-up in Group A.
Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports
Catch up on all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.
Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.
They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.
Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.
Additionally, Sky Sports’ Essential Football Podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.