Germany are through to the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup after a 2-0 win over Canada at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. Goals from Pauline Bremer and Rebecca Knaak secured the two-time winners' place, but only after a genuine battle against a host side that did themselves, their country and a massive crowd of 22,421 proud.
The Germans were ultimately more clinical and potent in attack, but Canada certainly had their chances and must be wondering what might have been had Emma Fletcher's ninth-minute 25-yard shot flown in instead of rattling the crossbar. But they were up against formidable and impressive opponents, and Germany had already come close through a Theresa Panfill header when they took the lead after 24 minutes.
The goal seemed to exemplify the Europeans' superior firepower, with Lena Petermann and Pauline Bremer combining brilliantly to create something from nothing. And while Petermann, who was selfless throughout, did well to win a flick-on at the halfway line, from that moment on the goal was all Bremer's work.
The Germany No9 has missed plenty of chances here at Canada 2014, but always comes back for more and, after outpacing the defence and rounding Kailen Sheridan, she intelligently realised that she had taken the ball too wide to be sure of scoring. Instead, Bremer showed the confidence in her own ability to jink past Sheirdan again before coolly threading a shot through the covering defenders blocking the way to goal.
It was a lesson in composure, and others in white were soon looking to follow where their centre-forward had led, with Petermann only denied a certain second by an amazing last-gasp saving tackle by Rebecca Quinn. Then, early in the second half, Sheridan assumed the role of heroine, standing up tall and blocking from Bremer at point-blank range after a four-versus-two break had ended with Petermann again unselfishly feeding her strike partner.
It wasn't all one-way traffic though and with 67 minutes played it was Meike Kamper's turn to come to the rescue, racing from her goal to save bravely at the feet of Fletcher. But with eight minutes remaining the Germans effectively moved out of sight when a textbook set piece doubled their advantage. Knaak claimed the plaudits, charging in powerfully to head home from four yards, but much of the credit belonged to Sara Dabritz, who had delivered the most inviting of inswinging corners from the right flank.
Canada refused to give up, and should have pulled a goal back on two occasions, each of which ended with substitutes - first Amadine Pierre-Louis then Lindsay Agnew - missing the target when it seemed easier to score. Nonetheless, Andrew Olivieri's side can depart with their heads held high, knowing that they have contributed greatly to this tournament and been beaten by a side sure to be in contention for the trophy.
Live Your Goals player of the match: Lena Petermann (GER)