The Germany women’s national team enjoyed a perfect return to action on Saturday evening, beating Ireland 3-0 in their European Championship qualifier. The win, against the previously unbeaten Ireland, sees Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s team leapfrog their opponents to top spot in Group I. Marina Hegering (8’), Dzsenifer Marozsan (38’) and Lea Schüller (41’) scored the goals in a busy first at an empty Stadion Essen to keep the world’s second-ranked side on course for EURO 2022 with 15 points from five games.
Qualification efforts continue on Tuesday (16:00 CEST) against last-placed Montenegro, who are yet to register a point. The group winners and three best second-placed teams with qualify directly for the finals. Ireland currently sit second with 13 points following their first defeat of the campaign.
After almost six months without international football, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Voss-Tecklenburg opted for an experienced side to face the Irish. Merle Frohms started in goal behind a back four of Giulia Gwinn, Lena Oberdorf, Hegering and Kathrin Hendrich. Lina Magull, Melanie Leupolz and Marozsan formed the midfield three, while Svenja Huth, captain Alexandra Popp and Schüller led the attack.
"We’re one of the top teams in the world. We have a young team coupled with some experienced leaders. We’re working with a view to EURO 2022 and want to be challenging for the title," said Voss-Tecklenburg ahead of kick-off in Essen. "We want to reclaim top sport in the league. We know what we can do. Joy, quality and focus," are the things she was hoping to see from her time."
Her players didn’t disappoint. A high press was evident from the first minute and in possession, the team worked the ball towards goal with intent. It didn’t take long for the pressure to pay off: Marozsan’s set piece whipped into the middle of the box and met by a flying Hegering to head the ball into the back of the net (8’).
The lead was almost doubled in the 12th minute, but Schüller’s shot didn’t have enough to beat the goalkeeper after a superb one-two from Magull and Huth. Popp also came close, heading narrowly over from one of several German corners.
Ireland, meanwhile, offered little resistance to the German pressure and had few notable chances. The first half wasn’t completely plain sailing, however, as Gwinn was forced off with a knee injury on the half-hour mark. The 21-year-old has been taken to hospital for further tests. Arsenal’s Leonie Maier came on as her replacement (35‘).
The injury setback did little to unsettle the host’s game, however. Leupolz and Marozsan combined brilliantly before the recently-crowned Champions League finished to double the lead (38’). Germany pounced again minutes later, Schüller firing in with a first-timed finish to take a deserved 3-0 lead into the break.
No more goals followed, as the DFB team used all their experience to see the game out without allowing the visitors so much as a sniff at goal. Sara Däbritz made her long-awaited return to action after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury.