Eunice Beckmann's first goal of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship earned Germany a 1-0 win against Spain on Thursday to take them through to the semi-finals though ominously she stresses that one "is never enough – you always want more."
Beckmann threatened to cause havoc from the moment she somehow sent her ball – the players each kick one into the crowd before kick-off – into the pit that lines the front of the main tribune at Bellaria's Stadio Enrico Nanni. Around 30 children tumbled in, racing to claim it; before realising they could not get back up the steep walls.
She was similarly off-target as the game got under way, lashing a presentable opening well wide on 15 minutes and struggling to escape the attentions of Spain centre-backs Andrea Pereira and Eztizen Merino. "
I missed a good chance early on and after that I was thinking 'I really have to score now'," said the 19-year-old. "I was confident, certain I would, but it definitely motivated me to up my work rate."
She got her reward 12 minutes into the second period when Isabella Schmid released her after dispossessing Pereira near the halfway line. The forward still had a lot to do, touching past onrushing goalkeeper Sandra Paños and outmuscling Merino before calmly side-footing in. "As a striker it's always a relief to get your first goal but it's never enough," said the youngster, restricted to a single effort in 18 games for Bayer 04 Leverkusen last term.
"It just motivates you to go on and get more, to play your role for the team." It will be music to coach Maren Meinert's ears as she attempts to guide Germany to their first title since 2007. Formerly a striker of some repute, scoring 33 times in 92 international appearances, she knows all about the boost a goal can bring, "giving a player confidence to take into the rest of the tournament."
Germany will not be lured into complacency. They had also sealed progress this time last year, scoring nine goals in the process, though after rounding off the group stage with a 100% record they bowed out in the semi-finals, losing on penalties to eventual champions France. "That relative failure makes us more determined," said Beckmann, a starter in three of Germany's four matches 12 months ago.
"Our main goal was to qualify for the [FIFA U-20 Women's] World Cup – we've done that – and right now we're playing in the European Championships so our goal is to win the tournament.
It's great to qualify with a game to spare, sealing our place in the semi-finals and the World Cup, but we're not here to relax; we're here to win the title.
"Over the next couple of days we'll recuperate and then we'll go at it again – it's not a holiday." Sunday's opponents Netherlands be warned. The Oranje need to win by three goals in Imola to stand any chance of reaching the last four but for Germany and Beckmann, there is always something to play for.
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