Alex Popp's remarkable UEFA Women's EURO 2022 continued as she scored both goals in a hard-fought win to set up a final meeting with England.
Contenuti top media
22' Popp free-kick brilliantly kept out
40' Popp volleys in Huth's cross
44' Diani finds net via post and Frohms
76' Popp head in another Huth cross
Match in brief: Good times roll on for Popp
The first 40 minutes was taut, with both teams testing for weaknesses without ever overcommitting, but the shackles well and truly came off before the break. First Popp – whose free-kick had been brilliantly denied earlier by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin – got across her marker to slam home Svenja Huth's cross on the volley.
France weren't behind for long. Moments before the break, Kadidiatou Diani danced in from the left before unleashing a powerful effort that swerved onto the inside of the near post, ricocheted off Merle Frohms' back and into the net. With two lusty blows landed, the sides regrouped and got back behind their jabs.
Slowly France began to inject some pace and, spurred on by the waspish Selma Bacha and the more direct running of Diani, they began to ask the Germany back line more and more questions. Popp had the answer.
With 14 minutes remaining, her side finally escaped their own half and, like a team that has won this title eight times, made it count as Huth floated in a ball following broken play. Popp rose imperiously to power in her header – and book Germany their place in a ninth final.
Player of the Match: Alexandra Popp (Germany)
"Popp was involved in all the game's crucial moments. She scored in both halves and made a crucial block midway through the second, coming from an attacking position to help out in the penalty box. Above all, she is the leader, an example of teamwork who inspires those around her. No work is too much for her, either in attack or defence. A captain who leads by example!"
UEFA Technical Observer panel
Anna-Sophia Vollmerhausen, Germany reporter
A game this big was always going to need a massive show of character and fighting spirit, and Popp is the perfect embodiment of both in this Germany squad. You could tell she wanted that win and was willing to do whatever was needed to make it happen. It wasn't always pretty, but Germany grinded it out, winning the challenges they needed and showcasing their clinical finishing once again. This team are fully invested in playing for each other, and it shows.
Vanessa Tomaszewski, France reporter
Germany had the possession and physicality to pressure France throughout. After finding a quick equaliser, the introduction of Bacha and Clara Matéo offered more attacking options for Les Bleues, making them less predictable and unsettling their opponents. France tried everything but, after an excellent run, they are out.
Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, Germany coach: "I feel pure pride in this achievement and in these players, from 1 to 23. We've worked so hard and become such a tight-knit bunch. We totally deserved to win. It was a terrific team effort to [contain them]. It worked out in the end, but it was super-exciting and super-exhausting."
Alex Popp, Germany captain: "I can't put it into words. We played an amazing game and threw everything in. We are incredibly happy; nobody expected us [to do it]. We're in the final at Wembley against England – it doesn't get any better than that."
Corinne Diacre, France coach: "The players fought hard. We gave everything, but it didn't come off, especially in the second period when we created chances. Efficiency eluded us again. It was not to be and the wait goes on, but the foundations are solid. We fell to a great team: powerful, athletic, efficient."
Kadidiatou Diani, France forward: "We came up against a Germany team that caused us a lot of problems, especially in the first half. Congratulations to them, quite simply. The main regret is, above all, the lack of efficiency. Unfortunately it happens, but we will learn from it."
- Germany are through to a record ninth Women's EURO final.
- Germany's win was their ninth in ten Women's EURO semi-finals, and seventh in succession. Their sole defeat came in 1993, on penalties against Italy.
- Popp's opening goal was the 100th at the Women's EURO for Germany, the eight-time winners becoming the first team to reach that landmark.
- Popp is the first player to score in five successive Women's EURO matches. Compatriot Heidi Mohr scored in four, spread across three tournaments (1989, 1991 and 1993).
- France's equaliser was the first Germany have conceded at Women's EURO 2022, ending a record 404 minutes without being breached.
- Popp's second of the game took her to six for the tournament, equalling the all-time record shared by Inka Grings (Germany, 2009) and Beth Mead (England, 2022).
Germany: Frohms; Gwinn, Hendrich, Hegering (Doorsoun 81), Rauch; Magull (Dallmann 68), Oberdorf, Däbritz (Lohmann 68); Huth (Wassmuth 90+1), Popp, Brand
France: Peyraud-Magnin; Périsset, Mbock Bathy, Renard, Karchaoui; Bilbault, Toletti (Sarr 80), Geyoro; Diani, Malard (Bacha 46), Cascarino (Matéo 61)
Germany will face England in Sunday's final at Wembley Stadium, with kick-off at 17:00 local time (18:00 in Germany).