Magull and Schüller lead Germany to resounding opening victory over Denmark

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Never underestimate the Germans. Their coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, had wondered if they could catch some opponents off guard this summer after a couple of modest performances at major tournaments – as far-fetched an idea as it might seem given that they’ve won the European Championship. eight times. With this evidence, who could believe that he will not win a ninth?

Related: Spain on the move after the favorites recovered from Finland’s goal in the first minute

An imagined Denmark was overwhelmed in an urgent and fluid performance that would have deserved an even wider margin of victory. Germany settled for a first-half goal from the excellent Lina Magull before later goals from Lea Schüller and two substitutes, Lena Lattwein and Alexandra Popp; it means that their meeting with Spain here on Tuesday will likely decide the Group B winners and ensures that Denmark, for whom Pernille Harder had little chance to shine in a subdued attack, cannot afford to fall short when they take on Finland.

Brentford, through the country’s strong influence on its men’s club, had already become known as a little corner of Denmark in West London. Lars Søndergaard and his players must have been delighted when it emerged that they would be playing their two toughest group games here: their fans were a great vocal presence on a sunny afternoon and, while the atmosphere could hardly be called intimidating, the weight of enthusiasm was overwhelming. in his favor.

Within 20 minutes of onset it had emphatically shut down. Magull’s goal was surprising only because it took so long to arrive: Germany had ripped out of the blocks, devastated Denmark from the flanks and hit the woodwork twice before their almost relentless pressure finally paid off. One side seemed hungry and sharp, the other rushed and wide open, and the advance encapsulated both states.

It came after Denmark made a move from behind too complicated. Signe Bruun, her striker, had sunk deep into her own half and sold center back Stine Pedersen short with a back pass. Pedersen had no choice but to try to clear, with Magull coming at full speed; the Germany striker charged her attempt and was able to run, scoring an unstoppable shot past Lene Christensen from a slight angle to the right.

Two minutes earlier Magull had forced a spectacular save from Christensen with a clumsy, impromptu shot into the center of right-back Svenja Huth. Huth was nearly unplayable in those early stages, repeatedly roasting an exposed Katrine Veje; one of those events resulted in a near miss by Klara Bühl in the fifth minute and that set the tone.

However, it was German left back Felicitas Rauch who sounded the alarm bells loudest. She surprisingly hit the crossbar twice in the first 13 minutes, crashing into the frame from 20 yards after Sara Däbritz kept her feet good before repeating the trick from a slightly longer distance when Bühl fed her. Both shots were hit sweetly and anyone would have staked an early claim for the best goal of the tournament.

Alexandra Popp completes the scoring for Germany. Photograph: John Sibley/Reuters

Denmark steadied themselves after trailing behind and Bruun, occupying the space where she is most used to doing damage, spun on the ‘D’ before a half-volley and required a spectacular save from Merle Frohms. But that was the sum of their danger before halftime: Germany continued to force the pace, hardly as unbridled, and Christensen blocked Lea Schüller with the final action of a half in which Denmark could have been buried.

Eleven minutes after the reset, they indeed were. Søndergaard had just made a triple substitution, with Nadia Nadim among the arrivals, in an attempt to liven up a performance that continued to deliver little. Almost immediately, the usually impressive Christensen made a great low save from Magull but, from the next corner, badly erased the notebook from him. Magull’s floating play from the left was well executed but not especially threatening; Christensen went out to collect but got caught in a crowd of bodies and Schüller, getting up to meet them, was able to head into an empty goal with the goalkeeper stranded.

That seemed to take the sting out of the occasion and Voss-Tecklenburg was able to shore things up with three changes of her own. Rikke Sevecke headed over the crossbar for Denmark from a corner, her reaction suggesting she should have halved the deficit; the Danes were heading into a beautiful pink sunset, but it seemed like a metaphor for their declining prospects.

Those went pitch black as Lattwein, found unmarked by Lena Oberdorf’s towering header, charged forward. Popp completed the defeat with an emphatic header; The sacking of Kathrine Møller Kühl added to Denmark’s misery and it may take a while for Germany to stop from here.

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