The Germany’s women’s team finished the 2017-18 season with a bang. Germany came out 3-2 winners in a rollercoaster of a match in Hamilton, Ontario, with four goals coming in the second half. It was Germany’s 15th win in 16 meetings between the sides.
“We started well, but then Canada started to really get a grip on the game,” said goalscorer Svenja Huth, continuing: “Nevertheless, we showed great character and turned the game around. We’re really happy that we can fly home as winners.”
Huth sent Germany into a 1-0 lead after just 47 seconds, before Canada, who finished third at the Olympics, turned the game around through second-half goals from Christine Sinclair (59’) and Jessie Fleming (69’). Goals from substitutes Sara Däbritz (70’) and Turid Knaak (85’) turned the match around again in favour of Germany.
Interim head coach Horst Hrubesch gave goalkeeper Lisa Schmitz her international debut in the Germany women’s team’s last fixture of the season. In the absence of key players such as captain Babett Peter and Dzsenifer Marozsan, there were changes in five positions compared to the team who beat Slovenia 4-0 in the EURO qualifier and many young players were given an opportunity to shine. Kristin Demann wore the captain’s armband.
Germany played on an artificial surface in front of 22,826 spectators against the team placed fourth in the FIFA World Rankings and got off to a lightning start. After a quick counter down the middle from the agile Lea Schüller, the ball was cleared by the Canadian defence and landed at the feet of Huth, whose driven shot handed her her fourth international goal and gave Germany a very early lead (1’).
The Germany team, who took to the field wearing black armbands after the sudden death of two-time European champion Jutta Nardenbach, played with the wind in their backs after the early goal and continued to push forwards against the North American side. Canada started to get a better grip on the game around ten minutes in and Huth had to head away several corners, while Sophie Schmidt also made a goal-line clearance with her thigh (12’). Nevertheless, the German team retained control and also had their own chances.
Lina Magull shot powerfully from the edge of the box after a free kick, but her effort went over the bar (18’). Lena Petermann came very close to doubling Germany’s lead in the 24th minute, but was denied by Canada goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe after a perfect cross from Schüller. Another shot from Huth was blocked in the 29th minute.
However, Germany got lucky two minutes before, when Canadian record player Christine Sinclair’s shot missed in the 27th minute; Schmitz would have been powerless to save it. The debutant was hardly tested in the match, but was always there when needed.
After a short burst of fast-paced football, the game quietened down around the half-hour mark. Carolin Simon came off in her comeback game after a lengthy time out with a knee injury due to muscle problems and Leonie Müller joined the action in her place (40’). Chinese referee Qin Lian could have pointed to the spot a minute later after a challenge on Petermann , but the whistle remained silent, so the Germans carried their narrow lead into the break.
In addition to Schlüter, Sara Däbritz came on for Melanie Leupolz at the start of the second half and both teams were initially shaky in terms of flow of play and structure. Canada recovered the soonest and grabbed an equaliser in the 59th minute. After a free kick from the middle of the field, Germany failed to clear the ball and an organisational error in defense allowed Sinclair to head the ball over Schlüter and into the net. It was her 173rd goal in 268 international appearances.
Canada continued to pile on the pressure after scoring the equaliser and Joelle Wedemeyer came on to make her debut in a difficult spell of the game (66’). Three minutes later, she witnessed Canada take the lead. After a misunderstanding in the German defence, the hosts linked up well up front and Jessie Fleming scored Canada’s second (69’).
Germany didn’t wait to respond; after some wonderful individual work, Däbritz scored the second equaliser of the game to draw Germany level (70’). And it got better: Turid Knaak cleaned up to score after Labbe pushed a dangerous free kick from Däbritz onto the post (85’). Both teams could have scored further goals in the final stages of the game.