England 1-2 Germany
Rebecca Knaak headed in the winner three minutes from time as Germany edged out England in their Group B opener.
Article top media content
• Rebecca Knaak heads in with four minutes left to earn Germany win
• Ellie Stewart heads against the bar in added time
• Nina Ehegötz breaks the deadlock with nice finish on 25 minutes
• Left-back Gabrielle George equalises with first competitive goal for England
• Next matches: England v Spain, Germany v Norway (Saturday)
Defender Rebecca Knaak struck a late winner as Germany edged a high-quality encounter against England in Rishon Le-zion.
The former WU19 EURO winners looked set to share the Group B spoils after Nina Ehegötz and Gabrielle George exchanged fine strikes in a first half as close and breathless as the early-evening air. That is how it remained when, with England legs growing heavy, Knaak rose highest to nod in a corner. England rallied, and Ellie Stewart headed against the bar but Germany held on.
A low-flying aircraft spent a chunk of the first 20 minutes buzzing overhead in the twilight sky, and the tackling was similarly waspish with both sides pressing hard and high, and looking to retain possession. Katie Zelem kept hold of the ball for a little too long, though, as Lea Schüller dispossessed and fed Ehegötz. The No9, with time and space, steadied herself before dinking over Caitlin Leach.
The lead lasted five minutes and the equaliser was a peach, a triumph this time for adventure. Rosella Ayane lifted in an inviting cross that George, up from left-back, directed into the far corner with the poise of a forward. England continued in a similar dynamic vein but Germany gained more structure, defending in numbers and looking to make use of any space.
Occasionally they did find a way through as legs tired, but England's centre-back pairing Molly Bartrip and Stewart stood firm until Knaak outjumped them all late on.
Maren Meinert, Germany coach: "It was hard work. There weren't many chances for either side, it was very intense. We had to work hard because England have a very good, athletic team. We had to perform well to keep the game open and in the end it's just luck. At one end we score from a corner then at the other they hit the crossbar. England are a very good team."
Mo Marley, England manager: "I thought we probably shaded it in the first half but it always felt that we might concede some ground with our mistakes – as happened with the first goal. In the second half Germany's experience showed. We were always in it, but the longer the game went on it felt like Germany were really pushing. The players are disappointed, in the manner of defeat as much as anything else. I told my player it's a cruel game, but we have a history of losing the first game but qualifying."