The Germany women’s national team have stretched their lead at the top of World Cup qualification group H to five points, with a 3-1 win in their last game of the year away to second-placed Portugal in Faro. The win, the sixth in as many games for Marina Voss-Tecklenburg’s side, sees the team well on course to qualify for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with only the group winners guaranteed to qualify.
Three goals in 13 first-half minutes saw the three points return to Germany, scored by Lea Schüller (15’), Svenja Huth (23’) and Melanie Leupolz (28’), who was celebrating her 75th international appearance. The only blot on the record was Portugal’s consolation goal, a penalty which unluckily rebounded in off goalkeeper Merle Frohms’ shoulder.
Marina Voss-Tecklenburg made four changes from her side’s 8-0 win against Turkey last time out, with Giulia Gwinn und Marina Hegering returning to the side. Germany were able to find a way through the Portugese pressing quickly, a first ruled-out goal coming after just five minutes; Lena Oberdorf put the ball home, but was offside as Leupolz headed the ball to her.
Germany kept a high tempo and were able to create many chances – a cross from Kathrin Hendrich was almost tapped in by Klara Bühl, but she could not control it. Schüller broke the deadlock after a quarter of an hour, being in the right place from a corner to score her 23rd goal for her country.
Two further goals saw Germany race into a 3-0 lead – a shot from the edge of the box from Huth and Leupolz’s deflected strike made the difference. There were also several further chances for the ball to find its way into Patricia Morais’ net. A counter attack saw Klara Bühl hit the post (25’), before another header from Schüller forced the Portugese goalkeeper into a fantastic save (27’).
Around the half-hour mark, Portugal first put their stamp on the game in an attacking sense and brought a goal back. A mistake from the German defence saw Ana Borges taken out by goalkeeper Merle Frohms without taking also the ball. The penalty was converted, and the rest of the half saw an open game without too many clear cut chances for both sides.
Schüller tested Morais once more with a powerful left-footed drive early in the second half (50), but the Portugese side were much more cautious than at the start of the first half and made life difficult for the away side. The game then became a rather rougher affair, with Bühl body-checked into the advertising boards, but Germany created the better chances despite the flow of the game being disrupted through substitutions. One such substitute, Dzsenifer Maroszan, shot harmlessly at Morais (64’), before Oberdorf came close again from a corner (69’).
Germany were closer to scoring their fourth than Portugal were to their second; Jule Brand and Tabea Waßmuth both tested the Portugese goalkeeper shortly after coming on (75’, 84’). The hosts failed to threaten for large portions, with Frohms being called to action in the fifth minute of added time from Fatima Pinto. The final whistle blew with Germany 3-1 winners, their sixth from their last six games.