German football players fell to the ground, buried their faces in their hands – and let the tears flow freely. Without their leader Alexandra Popp, the DFB women narrowly missed their long-awaited ninth European title after a make-or-break battle. The record-breaking European champions lost the Wembley final 1-2 (1-1, 0-0) after extra time against hosts England and thus suffered their first defeat in the EURO final.
Substitutes Ella Toone (62nd) and Chloe Kelly (110th) scored the goals for the English, who won their first major title, in front of a deafening crowd of 87,192 spectators in the final of the European Championship (women’s and men’s). Lina Magull (79th) equalized however.
The German Football Association (DFB) team, which was at the top of the 2016 Olympics, has to make another attempt at the World Cup next year. Players of the two-time world champion can console themselves with a final bonus of 30,000 euros.
Captain and goalkeeper Popp, who was out due to muscle problems, did not reach the final. The 31-year-old had already scored in all five games. According to DFB managing director Oliver Bierhoff, Popp suffered “slight strain” on Saturday. Lea Schüller played for Popp – the newly crowned footballer of the year. Svenja Huth replaced Popp as captain.
“We want to take the last step,” said national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg just before the ARD kick-off: “We see it as a challenge but also a privilege.”
DFB women play in front of prominent support
Viewers in London, including various celebrities such as Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Home Secretary Nancy Faeser, Prince William, DFB President Bernd Neuendorf, national coach Hansi Flick and Bierhoff, saw English women’s first chance through Ellen White after 180 seconds.
In the replay of the 2009 final (6-2 to Germany), the Lionesses also determined what happened next. The Germans, who also had to do without Klara Bühl (Corona), still had good chances through Sara Däbritz (10th).
The conclusion brought the German team, which had invaded the final with five wins, little more security. The DFB team was put on the defensive for long stretches of the heated game. However, the English failed to create any real chances.
In the middle of the first half, the Germans freed themselves from the English pressure. In the 25th minute, Marina Hegering almost hit the ball over the goal line after a corner. A potentially punishable handball by English captain Leah Williamson in this scene was verified by video evidence to the detriment of the DFB selection.
Lina Magull scores for Germany to draw
After that, not much happened. The two teams neutralized each other in midfield. That changed in the 38th minute when White again had the English lead on his heels.
At the start of the second half, the Germans turned up the heat. Substitutes Tabea Waßmuth (48th) and Magull (50th) missed their chance to lead. After that, things got more difficult again, after an hour the referee Katerina Monsul (Ukraine) had already issued five yellow cards.
When Toone conceded, the German defense went too far. Magull could have equalized immediately, but he only hit the post (66′). After that, the Germans threw everything to the front, Voss-Tecklenburg brought in a series of new forces for the final offensive. Magull rewarded the DFB team with the draw.
DFB women receive reception in Frankfurt
In extra time, the Germans were initially more active, but Kelly deflected the ball over the line after a corner.
Even before the final, it was clear that, regardless of the result, there would be a party in Frankfurt/Main on Monday afternoon. The German team presents itself to the fans on the balcony of the Römer town hall.
Neuendorf was already looking forward to the time after the final with high hopes. “The team has put the whole country into a little frenzy in recent weeks,” said the DFB coach: “We want to convert the whole thing, we want to achieve concrete goals.”