The fourth match, fourth win and the fourth clean sheet in a row: Germany’s women’s national team have qualified for the quarterfinals at the World Cup in France after a convincing 3-0 win against Nigeria. Alexandra Popp scored her 48th goal for Germany in her 100th appearance to take the lead in Grenoble (20’), while Sara Däbritz scored her third of the tournament, off a penalty shot (27’). Lea Schüller netted the final goal of the match for the two-time World Cup winners (82’).
The 3-0 win marked the ninth match in a row that Germany have not allowed a goal against—a new record. At the same time, head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side have now gone 16 consecutive matches without suffering a defeat.
In the quarterfinals next Saturday (18:30 CEST), Germany will face the winner of Monday’s duel between Sweden and Canada (21:00 CEST).
Voss-Tecklenburg made one change to the squad that started in the 4-0 win against South Africa: Lea Schüller replaced Klara Bühl for her first start at a World Cup, and was part of Germany’s striker duo together with captain Popp. Germany stuck with a 4-4-2 formation, with Almuth Schult in goal, a back four of Giulia Gwinn, Sara Doorsoun, Marina Hegering and Verena Schweers, and Svenja Huth, Melanie Leupolz, Lina Magull and Sara Däbritz in midfield. Dzsenifer Marozsan was on the bench for the first time since breaking her toe in the first group stage match against China.
Schult was challenged early on in the Stade des Alpes: the keeper made no mistake in stopping Francisca Ordega just 90 seconds in. Germany then took control of the match and quickly had their first real chance: Magull was on the receiving end of a pass from Huth and found herself in front of Nigeria’s net, but her shot was blocked by Osinachi Ohale (6’).
It took just 20 minutes before Germany were able to take the lead. Popp met Magull’s corner with a well-timed header and nicked the ball into the corner of the net, even though she only managed to see the ball late. The goal was checked by VAR but was given after a review from the referee. In a matter of seconds, referee Yoshini Yamashita was back in front of the VAR monitor, checking for a penalty after Evelyn Nwabuoku met Magull with her studs showing just mere moments after the restart. After a long look, the Japanese referee gave the penalty.
Däbritz took on the responsibility and put the ball into the right-hand corner (27’), thereby scoring in her third World Cup match in a row. There have now been 14 penalties in the DFB-Frauen’s history, with 13 of them having been converted. The game then became a lot more cagey and unceremonious. The Super Falcons were giving it their all and managed to break the German side’s rhythm. However, Nigeria found it difficult to make decent headway going forward. A free-kick from Ngozi Okobi (37’) and a shot from Desier Oparanozie (45+2) were the only real threats.
In the second half, Voss-Tecklenburg brought on Bühl and Carolin Simon for Schweers and Leupolz however Nigeria were able to keep the pressure on. Substitute Rasheedat Ajibade finished a strong solo run with a shot from an acute angle and Oparanozie then fluffed her chance when she met the ball at the far post, putting it wide from just two metres out.
At the other end, it wasn’t until the 58th minute that Germany got back in the groove, as Gwinn fired a shot just over the bar. The 19-year-old aimed from distance but couldn’t keep her ball from rising above Chiamaka Nnadozie’s net. Germany now had more control of the ball and the opponents sat back. Lena Oberdorf eventually came on for Magull and created a chance for Däbritz, who wasn’t able to convert from 10 metres out (79’). Three minutes later, Schüller pounced upon a poor back pass from Halimatu Ayinde and netted the ball in the left corner with perfect precision (82’)