LONDON — Alexandra Popp had to wait nine years to play her first European Championship. Now she’s making it count.
Popp’s fourth goal in as many games sealed Germany’s 2-0 win over Austria on Thursday to set up a semifinal match with either France or the Netherlands.
Popp was injured for the last two editions of the competition in 2013 — when Germany won — and 2017. She tested positive for the coronavirus last month ahead of the tournament but recovered in time. As captain against Austria, the Wolfsburg forward was key to creating Germany’s chances and, when the time came, clinical in front of goal.
Germany showed lightning-quick reactions and smart thinking for the opening goal in the 25th minute, with Klara Bühl turning over possession on the left flank and cutting back a cross that Popp wisely left alone to allow teammate Lina Magull to score from a better position.
Dangerous throughout the game, Popp sealed it for Germany in the 90th when she exploited goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger’s rare lapse of concentration to charge down her attempted pass and send it into the net.
“It could have maybe finished 6-3,” Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told German broadcaster ARD. “All in all, a huge game and we’re just happy that we could win 2-0.”
A surprise semifinalist at the last European Championship, Austria was tenacious in defense but frustrated in attack, hitting the post twice and the crossbar once, including a header against the post for Marina Georgieva with the first real chance of the game in the 13th. Germany, too, could easily have scored more, with two shots against the woodwork and a glaring miss from Bühl in the 82nd when faced with an empty net with Zinsberger out of position.
Eight-time European champion Germany moves into the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time since winning the Olympic gold medal in 2016, following quarterfinal exits at the last Euros in 2017 and the 2019 World Cup, and failing to qualify for last year’s Olympics.
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