Germany took their tournament tally to nine goals in two Group B outings with a 5-1 success against France to clinch their place in the quarter-finals in forceful style.
Holders on song
The UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2005™ winners opened the scoring after just nine minutes with Inka Grings netting her 45th international goal, before Annike Krahn's long-range effort doubled their advantage. Melanie Behringer was next to find the target on the stroke of half-time and Linda Bresonik added a fourth from the penalty spot early in the second period. France finally hit back on 51 minutes, with Gaëtane Thiney finding the net, but it was Germany who had the final say when Simone Laudehr added the fifth at the death. Norway's later 1-0 win against Iceland means that Germany have won the group and will play the Group C runners-up in Lahti on 4 September. France are second ahead of Norway on goal difference so a draw on Sunday when they meet would take them through.
Germany coach Silvia Neid opted against tinkering with a winning lineup, selecting the same eleven that started the 4-0 victory against Norway on Matchday 1. Les Bleues, however, had no such good fortune, weakened from the start by the absence of injured key duo Corine Franco and Candie Herbert, who both suffered head injuries in their opening-night 3-1 triumph over Iceland.
With just nine minutes gone, their opponents took full advantage. Grings was determined to open her UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ account after a string of near misses against Norway in Monday's opener and started and finished the move. Her telepathic one-touch pass out to the left released strike partner Birgit Prinz, who crossed early to the back post where the onrushing Grings powered in a header.
Germany continued to pressurise and, eight minutes later, Neid's charges doubled their advantage. A Behringer corner from the left was nodded clear by Laura Georges. But the ball flew only as far as Krahn, lurking 25 metres from goal, and Grings' FCR 2001 Duisburg club-mate met it perfectly, returning it goalwards where it clipped the underside of the bar before ending its trajectory firmly in the back of the net.
More to come
France were reeling as a dominant Germany added their third on the stroke of half-time. Behringer took the credit, this time, after she drilled a low 22-metre free-kick through a ruck of bodies and past France No1 Sarah Bouhaddi. And there was yet more woe for Bruno Bini's side early in the second half when Sonia Bompastor's handball in the penalty area gave Bresonik the chance to despatch the fourth goal.
On 51 minutes, France finally mustered a response, when magical footwork by Camille Abily allowed her to release Thiney, who guided the ball past Nadine Angerer. Fittingly, though, it was outstanding Germany who made the final contribution, with substitute Laudehr sealing the victory in injury time after being set up by Prinz.