From Brentford Community Stadium – Germany’s quest to win a record ninth Women’s European Championship got off to a perfect start with a 4-0 victory over Denmark.
The Danes eliminated Friday’s opponents at the quarter-final stage in 2017, but Die Nationalelf avenged that defeat with a suffocating triumph to open their Euro 2022 campaign.
The game’s first half-chance went Germany’s way when Svenja Huth got the better of Katrine Veje on the right touchline and delivered a teasing cross, but Klara Buhl couldn’t keep her header down.
Denmark were let off the hook again when they failed to clear a loose ball and Felicitas Rauch rattled the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.
Minutes later, Germany hit the woodwork twice more through another Rauch sighter and Lea Schuller’s header, before Rauch somehow put the rebound wide, though that time had her blushes saved by an offside flag.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s women were again in disbelief at not taking the lead when Lene Christensen produced a smart near-post save to keep Lina Magull out.
But Germany finally took the lead on the 20-minute mark when Magull caught centre-back Stine Pedersen napping, taking the ball from her and firing past the helpless Christensen.
Denmark nearly found an equaliser when Signe Bruun unleashed a fierce shot from 20 yards out, with Merle Frohms stretching to keep it from heading into the top corner.
A half volley from Buhl whistled over Christensen’s bar as Germany looked to re-establish their authority, while Schuller forced the 22-year-old stopper into one final save before the break.
After the interval, Christensen did well to claw Magull’s shot from finding the back of the net, but failed to claim the cross from the resulting corner and Schuller nipped in ahead of her to head into an empty goal.
Germany thought they had added a third on a quick counter-attack when substitutes Linda Dallman and Jule Brand linked up well before Huth finished at Christensen’s near post, but the offside flag was raised and the goal remained chalked off following a VAR check.
But they were granted a legal third goal not long after when a free-kick fell into Lena Lattwein’s path following Lena Oberdorf’s towering header, and she slammed an effort just between Christensen and the post to put the game beyond doubt.
Die Nationalelf notched a fourth after a well-worked move saw Sydney Lohmann pick out Alexandra Popp with an inch-perfect cut-back, heading into an essentially empty net.
Katherine Moller Kuhl picked up two late bookings and was given her marching orders to round off a memorable evening in west London.
GK: Merle Frohms – 6/10 – Rarely tested but was reliable when called upon.
RB: Giulia Gwinn – 6/10 – Largely dealt with wing-back Sofie Svava and Denmark’s rotating forward line.
CB: Kathrin-Julia Hendrich – 7/10 – A rock off the ball and more than comfortable on it.
CB: Marina Hegering – 7/10 – Similarly excellent at both sides of the game.
LB: Felicitas Rauch – 7/10 – Heaven knows how Rauch didn’t score here. A menace in Denmark’s half and was hardly called into action in her own.
CM: Lena Oberdorf – 10/10 – A performance of real experience from the 20-year-old. The Wolfsburg star broke up play well, roamed forward with intent and was a master of the dark arts, before rounding off the evening with an assist.
CM: Sara Dabritz – 6/10 – Wasn’t as solid as her midfield co-stars but they set a very high bar.
CM: Lina Magull – 9/10 – A well-taken goal and a phenomenal all-round performance to match.
RW: Svenja Huth – 8/10 – Toyed with Svava and Katrine Veja plenty. Deserved an assist for her efforts.
CF: Lea Schuller – 8/10 – A busy evening for Schuller, whose name was on the back of many replica shirts in the stands. Eventually grabbed the goal she deserved.
LW: Klara Buhl – 7/10 – Decimated Janni Thomsen and Rikke Sevecke with her searing pace.
SUB: Alexandra Popp (CF, 61′ for Schuller) – 7/10
SUB: Lena Lattwein (CM, 61′ for Dabritz) – 7/10
SUB: Jule Brand (LW, 61′ for Buhl) – 6/10
SUB: Linda Dallman (CM, 69′ for Magull) – 7/10
SUB: Sydney Lohmann (CM, 84′ for Oberdorf) – 7/10
GK: Lene Christensen – 5/10 – Can’t imagine that the young goalkeeper would have wanted to have been so busy tonight. Kept Denmark in the game with some excellent saves and claims before costing them a goal herself.
CB: Rikke Sevecke – 3/10 – Started brightly but soon found herself losing almost every duel to Buhl.
CB: Stine Pedersen – 2/10 – Like Sevecke, Pedersen didn’t seem to be the root of Denmark’s problems, but she seemed to lose all confidence after gifting Germany their opening goal.
CB: Katrine Veje – 5/10 – Technically gifted, unafraid of playing from the back, but ultimately a little suspect defensively. This was the typical left centre-back performance.
RM: Janni Thomsen – 3/10 – Didn’t provide enough threat going forwards or solidity going the other way.
CM: Sanne Troelsgaard – 3/10 – Played well when given five seconds to think, not so much when pressed into making quick decisions.
CM: Sofie Junge Pedersen – 3/10 – Found it hard to establish her authority in midfield.
LM: Sofie Svava – 5/10 – Looked more threatening than she actually was, but at least worked hard and tried to help double up on Huth.
RF: Pernille Harder – 4/10 – The quality is obviously there, but Harder couldn’t bring all the pieces of her game together to help Denmark. Interchanged with Bruun and Madsen quite a bit.
CF: Signe Bruun – 5/10 – Flashes of brilliance but not enough to help turn the tide.
LF: Rikke Madsen – 5/10 – Popped up all over the place trying to link midfield and attack but to little avail.
SUB: Kathrine Moller Kuhl (CM, 55′ for Troelsgaard) – 1/10
SUB: Nadia Nadim (CF, 55′ for Bruun) – 5/10
SUB: Mille Gejl (LF, 55′ for Madsen) – 4/10
SUB: Simone Boye Sorensen (CB, 70′ for Svave) – 3/10
SUB: Stine Larsen (RW, 83′ for Thomsen) – N/A