Last night’s match between Germany and France was arguably the coming together of the Women’s World Cup tournament’s two strongest teams. Germany have been touted by many as the team most likely to win the title, but it was France who dominated play for most of the match. Neither side allowed the other any space on the ball, and the pace was relentless. Both teams attacked and fought for possession, which made for thrilling viewing.
Despite the dominance of the French, the score remained goalless at half-time, but a sensational goal from Louisa Necib put the Blues ahead in the 64th minute. It looked like the favourites, Germany, would be heading home, when a controversial penalty was awarded after a shot by Leonie Maier hit the arm of French defender Amel Majri. The ball clearly struck her arm, but from very close range and as her arm was moving backwards and down at the time away from the ball, it’s hard to see what she could have done to avoid it. Celia Sasic converted the penalty, equalising for Germany, and only six minutes short of the full time whistle, France were facing a period of extra time despite having dominated play for the entire match.
France were however thrown a lifeline in extra time. With only five minutes to go, Jessica Houara crossed to the unmarked Gaetane Thiney who was only six yards out from an open goal.. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and Thiney somehow missed, leaving French hopes of survival pinned on the penalty shoot out. In a tense finale, Germany’s Nadine Angerer saved Claire Lavogez’s penalty and it was all over. France were heading home.
Germany will meet the United States who have beaten China to reach their seventh consecutive World Cup semi-final.