Popp drives Germany past France into the final of Euro 2022

MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) — Alexandra Popp scored two goals on Wednesday for Germany to beat France 2-1 and advance to the European Championship final against England.

With the score at 1-1 and neither side having a chance to score, Germany captain Popp jumped over the French defense in the 76th minute and headed into the French goal.

Popp scored Germany’s first goal in the 40th but the lead lasted less than five minutes before France equalised. Popp has scored in all five of Germany’s games so far – a new record – after missing the last two European Championships in 2013 and 2017 through injury.

Germany meet hosts England in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. Popp and England’s Beth Mead are the joint top scorers with six goals each.

“I have no words. We played a crazy game, we gave everything we had,” Popp told German broadcaster ZDF. “We now face 90,000 in the final against England at Wembley. To be honest, there is nothing better.”

A late surge wasn’t enough as France failed to reach the final of a first major tournament and have now lost once in the semifinals at the World Cup, Olympics and European Championships.

Ahead of the game, Germany’s players posed with the No. 19 jersey of winger Klara Bühl, who had started in all four previous games but missed the semifinals after testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday. In a video message, Bühl prophesied to her teammates that without her they would set off “fireworks”.

Popp came closest to fireworks early on when her free kick in 22nd goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin was parried with a save.

Popp extended her scoring streak when she stormed past defender Ève Périsset and put Germany ahead in the 40th minute with a powerful shot following a low cross from Svenja Huth.

Shortly after, Germany conceded an unfortunate goal for the first time in the tournament when Kadidiatou Diani found a shot that bounced off the post and then into the back and inside of goalkeeper Merle Frohms. It was ruled an own goal for Frohms, who didn’t have a goal to react to the impact.

France missed chances to control the game when Selma Bacha blocked a shot from German defender Kathrin Hendrich, before captain Wendie Renard parried a powerful Frohms header shortly afterwards. Renard, France’s key set piece player, had another header in a dangerous position as her side chased a second equalizer late on, but that too was saved as Germany held on to victory.

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