Germany defeated Scotland 3-1 in Livingston today to win Group 4 and become the first team to qualify for the 2005 UEFA European Women's Championship alongside hosts England.
Tina-Theune Meyer's side are in irresistible form. Since winning the FIFA Women's World Cup in California last October they have embarked on a qualifying campaign which has seen them score 45 goals and concede just two. Their seven matches have brought a maximum return of 21 points, giving them an unassailable advantage over the Czech Republic in second.
Scotland captain Julie Fleeting missed the game's first scoring opportunity when she headed wide after goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg had failed to clear a free-kick. On 29 minutes, however, the deadlock was broken at the other end. Scotland goalkeeper Gemma Fray's attempted clearance was blocked by striker Sandra Smisek and Kerstin Garefrekes followed up to score.
Müller seals victory
Scotland drew level shortly before the hour when Fleeting converted a fine cross by Suzanne Grant. Fleeting went close again five minutes later but Silke Rottenberg kept out her shot. That was as good as it got for the Scots as, with 14 minutes remaining, Birgit Prinz headed Germany back in front. Martina Müller sealed the victory three minutes later after capitalising on a mistake by Ifeoma Dieke.
Despite progressing to the finals, coach Theune-Meyer admitted her side had not been at their best. "We did not manage to dominate the match and did not look solid in defence," she said. "We had big, big problems."
Theune-Meyer's team have lifted the last three European Championships and are currently ranked as the world's No1 team. Their chief rivals Sweden can qualify via Group 1 in the next month if results go their way.
All four section winners advance automatically. The remaining three places will be decided via a play-off system. The four runners-up and the two third-placed teams with the best records go through to those two-legged ties.
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