Germany punished an error-strewn display from South Africa to finish top of Group B at the Women’s World Cup.
The two-time winners had ample chances to win by more than 4-0 against debutants Banyana Banyana, who leave France having failed to earn a point.
Melanie Leupolz headed in the opener, then an awful error by keeper Andile Dlamini gifted Sara Dabritz a tap-in.
Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp nodded in a third before the break and Lina Magull added another from a yard out.
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Germany, one of the favourites for the title, had only found the net twice in their previous two group games, but against a brittle South African defence they ran riot.
They will now play a third-placed team from either Group A, C or D in Grenoble for a place in the quarter-finals.
South Africa’s coach Desiree Ellis will likely have been disappointed with her side’s poor first-half display, highlighted when Dlamini flapped at a low cross from Verena Schweers which led to Dabritz’s goal.
Her keeper did improve after the break, making a brilliant point-blank save from Dabritz, while pacy substitute striker Thembi Kgatlana was denied a goal in a one-on-one situation by Germany’s Almuth Schult.
‘There were things I didn’t like’
Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg: “The players performed very well. They showed that football can really be very simple sometimes.
“But there were also things I didn’t like so much – coaches are never 100% satisfied – and there were moments within the match when we tried to go for the more difficult solution. That’s something we can work on.
“But if I didn’t have the confidence my players have the capacity to improve in that respect, I wouldn’t be so demanding of them.”
South Africa coach Desiree Ellis: “This was always going to be a difficult group, but we felt that if we played well we could get some positive results.
“I felt we deserved more against Spain, but we didn’t play as well as we could have against China – and that turned this match into a final.
“Unfortunately, we started poorly, conceded two poor goals and were always on the back foot after that. I felt we panicked a bit in that first half.
“We told the players to calm down and play our brand of football, and they did that in the second half.”
In-form Dabritz – stats
- Germany have never lost their final group match in a Women’s World Cup tournament, winning seven of their previous eight such matches (D1 – 3-3 v Brazil in 1999).
- Germany have kept a clean sheet in all three of their Women’s World Cup matches in 2019, as many as in their previous two tournaments combined (2015 and 2011 – three in 11 games).
- Germany have only lost one of their previous 24 group stage matches at the Women’s World Cup (W19 D4). Indeed, they have won on matchday three seven out of eight times (D1), averaging 3.9 goals per game in those matches.
- Dabritz has scored in successive internationals for Germany for the first time since August 2016 when she scored in three consecutive appearances.
- Leupolz scored for Germany for the first time in 1,048 days, since netting at the 2016 Olympics against Zimbabwe.