September 30, 2022

Alexandra Popp scored twice to lead Germany to a 2-1 win over France on Wednesday and to the European Championship final against England.

With the level of play at 1-1 and both teams missing chances to score, German captain Popp leapt above the French defense in the 76th minute to send a bouncing header into the French goal.

Popp scored the opening goal for Germany in the 40th, but the lead lasted less than five minutes before France equalized. Popp has scored in all five of Germany’s matches so far – a new record – after missing the last two European Championships in 2013 and 2017 due to injuries.

Germany will play host country England in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. Popp and England’s Beth Mead are the joint top scorers with six goals each.

‘I can’t find words. We played a crazy game, we threw in everything we had,” Popp told German broadcaster ZDF. “We are now in the final against England for 90,000 at Wembley. Honestly, there’s nothing better.”

A late wave wasn’t enough as France didn’t come close to what would have been a first major tournament final, having lost in the semi-finals in each of the World Cup, Olympics and European Championships.

Before the match, the German players posed with the number 19 shirt of winger Klara Bühl, who had started all four previous games but missed the semi-finals after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. In a video message, Bühl predicted that her teammates would set off a “fireworks” without her.

Popp came closest to fireworks early on when her free kick in the 22nd yielded a save from goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

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Popp extended her scoring streak as she fired past defender Ève Périsset and gave Germany the lead 40 minutes into the game with a powerful shot into Svenja Huth’s low cross.

Shortly after, Germany conceded in hapless style for the first time in the tournament, Kadidiatou Diani hit a shot that bounced off the post and then from goalkeeper Merle Frohms back and in. It was registered as an own goal for Frohms, who had no time to react to the bounce.

France had opportunities to take control of the game when Selma Bacha blocked a shot by German defender Kathrin Hendrich, before captain Wendie Renard saved a powerful header from Frohms shortly afterwards. Renard, France’s key player at set pieces, had another header in a dangerous position as her team went late chasing a second equalizer, but that too was saved as Germany continued to win.

(AP)