Germany beat France 4-1 to secure top spot in Group A and dramatically eliminate their opponents, who were pipped to a place in the knockout stage by Colombia on goal difference. A hat-trick from Alexandra Popp ensured Maren Meinert’s team, who had already booked their place in the knockout phase, advanced with a 100 per cent record, while a last-gasp Yorelli Rincon penalty earned the South Americans a 3-0 win over Costa Rica that ultimately sent them through at the expense of Les Bleuettes.
Germany started the brighter but it was France that had the first noteworthy opportunity on five minutes, Lea Rubio’s composure failing her when well-placed inside the area. The Germans missed a greater chance shortly later, with Marina Hegering firing a penalty wide.
It failed to demoralise Germany, who immediately laid seige to their adversaries’ goal. They soon reaped the dividends, with the hungry Popp reacting first to a loose ball to bundle home a diving header.
Popp could have made it two on 19 minutes, failing to find the target after a clever through-ball from Dzsenifer Marozsan, but the former did exactly that ten minutes before the break, latching on to a long ball and lifting it over goalkeeper Laetitia Philippe and into the net.
The half-time introduction of Marina Makanza earned France a swift reward. The explosive No7 burst in from the right and her shot was parried to Pauline Crammer, who fired home to halve the deficit.
Jean-Michel Degrange’s side pursued an equaliser, but they were hit on the counter-attack on the hour mark. There appeared little danger when Popp collected possession on the left flank, but she purposefully cut inside before finiding the bottom corner with a cross-shot. It was the striker’s sixth goal in three games at this FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
Popp almost got her – and Germany’s – fourth but was denied by Philippe, who then made a fantastic double save from the No11 and Stefanie Mirlach. Germany did make it 4-1 on 73 minutes, though. Following a superb move, Kim Kulig picked out Marozman, who coolly dispatched the ball into the back of the net.
Crammer almost got France a second goal with time running out, but her effort was denied by the crossbar. The final whistle sounded shortly afterwards, and Les Bleuettes duly discovered the news they dreaded: Colombia had done just enough to end their run in the competition.