Eight-time champions Germany advanced to the Euro 2022 final against England on Sunday after defeating last-four debutants France 2-1. Alexandra Popp scored twice in the triumph.
Die Nationalelf’s road to the semi-finals had been immaculate – they had not conceded a single goal – and although being tested by an exuberant France frontline, they were unlikely to give up their chance to compete in a record-high ninth Euro final.
France head coach Corinne Diacre swore that her squad will “saviour” every moment of their first semi-final participation, but such optimism was quickly dashed as Popp finished off a free-flowing team move by firing Svenja Huth’s perfect cross home from close range (40).
The captain’s strike was the tournament’s 90th, as well as Germany’s 100th at the European Championships, an all-time high.
On the stroke of halftime, France broke through Germany for the first time, thanks to a ferocious strike from Kadidiatou Diani that cannoned awkwardly against the post and onto helpless goalkeeper Merle Frohms (45).
The rebound seemed harsh, but France’s brightest attacking threat on the night delivered decisively.
The Germans then rode a persistent wave of pressure, with efforts from Selma Bacha, Wendie Renard, and Diani all stopped by Frohms, who kept her team in the game until it was decided by the competition’s joint top scorer Popp.
The same formula that created the first opportunity created the second, as Huth picked out Popp’s late run and planted a thundering header past Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (76). A stressful wait occurred as VAR verified the goal’s legitimacy, which was quickly cleared.
Prior to this game, Germany had scored in all 23 of their knockout phase matches at European finals. Make that 24. They will meet England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday in a repeat of 2009’s final.
“I can’t put it into words. We played an amazing game and threw everything in. We are incredibly happy; nobody expected us. We’re in the final at Wembley against England – it doesn’t get any better than that.” Says Germany’s Alexandra Popp.
“We earned our self-confidence in all the games. The team is just great; they have my back and are happy with me after my whole story of suffering. Now it’s time to regenerate quickly.
“It [the Golden Boot] is not my priority – my priority is to win the Euro. If I have the chance to crown the title with that achievement, it would be nice – but if it doesn’t happen, then I’ll still be happy.”