Germany Wednesday made it two wins from two at the on-going Women’s World Cup as they claimed a narrow win over Spain in Group B.
Bayern Munich midfielder Sara Daebritz’s scrappy first-half goal settled the contest and put the side ranked number two in the world all-but through to the knockout stages.
Spain dominated possession but the Germans scored against the run of play when Daebritz pounced on some hesitant defending to bundle the ball in at the far post.
The result meant that Germany will be assured of their place in the last 16 if South Africa fails to beat China today, while realistically they look set to top the group.
Two-time winners Germany – who opened with a win over China – have reached at least the quarter-finals in all of the previous seven World Cups, while the Spaniards – who beat South Africa 3-1 on Saturday – have qualified for the tournament for the second time.
Efficient and resolute, the Germans remain unbeaten in 14 games since March 2018, while they are yet to lose to Spain after five meetings.
Germany were without influential midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsan, who may miss the rest of the tournament after breaking a toe in their opening win over China, but still possessed the talent and resolve to emerge with the victory.
Jorge Vilda’s side had edged the first half, which began amid torrential, wet conditions in Valenciennes, but Real Sociedad’s Nahikari Garcia scuffed wide after being played clean through and Atletico Madrid’s Silvia Meseguer fired off target from the edge of the box after a neat move.
But after Alexandra Popp’s strong downward header was well saved by Barcelona keeper Sandra Panos, Spain skipper Marta Torrejon took too long to clear the loose ball and Daebritz pounced to slide the ball in on the rebound.
After the break, Torrejon’s free-kick hit the wall from one of Spain’s best chances, before substitute Klara Buehl blazed over at the other end for Germany, and they were solid at the back to fend off a comeback.
Group B’s other teams South Africa and China do not play their second match until Thursday (20:00 BST) in Paris.
Then Spain face China in Le Havre on Monday (17:00) at the same time as Germany’s final group game against South Africa in Montpellier.
The top two teams will qualify automatically for the last 16, while the four best third-placed sides from the tournament’s six groups will join them.