Popp powers Germany past France, into Euro 2022 final

Germany's Alexandra Popp celebrates scoring her side's second goal in the Women Euro 2022 semifinal match against Germany, on Wednesday. [AP]

Alexandra Popp scored twice to power Germany to a 2-1 win over France on Wednesday night and into the final of the European Championship against England.

With the game level at 1-1 and both teams missing chances to score, Germany captain Popp leaped above the French defense in the 76th minute to send a bouncing header into the French goal.

Popp scored the opening goal for Germany in the 40th but the lead lasted less than five minutes before France equalised. Popp has scored in all five of Germany’s games so far — a new record — after missing the last two European Championships in 2013 and 2017 because of injuries.

Germany plays host nation England in Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. Popp and England’s Beth Mead are the joint top scorers with six goals each.

“I can’t find any words. We played a crazy game, we threw in everything we had,” Popp told German broadcaster ZDF.” A late surge wasn’t enough as France fell short of reaching what would have been a first major tournament final and has now lost in the semifinal stage once in each of the World Cup, Olympics and European Championship.

Before the game, Germany’s players posed holding the No. 19 shirt of winger Klara Buhl, who had started all four previous games but missed the semifinal following a positive test for Covid-19 on Tuesday. In a video message, Bühl predicted her teammates would set off a “firework” without her.
Popp came closest to fireworks early on when her free kick in the 22nd produced a diving save from goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

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