Germany 2 Austria 0

Thursday 22nd July 2022 – The European Women’s Championship – Brentford Community Stadium

As normal with the media in this country, you would have believed we had won the tournament after coming from behind to beat Spain in extra-time on Wednesday night rather than just a Quarter-Final tie. But we love to build our teams up just to knock them down again as soon as we have the opportunity. For some a little more engaged in the tournament the question would be who England could possibly face in the Semi-Final and ultimately Final.

Germany had certainly raised the eye-brows in their demolition of Denmark in their opening game at Brentford, then followed it up with professional performances against Spain and Finland to finish on maximum points and zero goals conceded. Austria had doggedly kept England at bay in their opening game, restricting the Lionnesses to a single Beth Mead goal, then efficiently brushed aside Northern Ireland and Norway to qualify as group runners up.

As soon as the qualifiers had been determined, tickets went on sale and once again were easy to procure at just £15 each. Whilst there have been a few grumbles about the tournament, you cannot fault the ticket pricing strategy that has seen the bulk of tickets sold for less than £20 for games.

The most accessible way to reach the new Brentford Community Stadium is by train to Kew Bridge, where I believe the distance from platform to centre circle is the shortest in European football. All well and good as long as the trains are running efficiently. Alas, a combination of the conditions (too hot), staff shortages (COVID) and unawareness from many that there was a game on, it became a painful journey from Waterloo, arriving at the stadium dead on 8pm.

At least there seemed to be more of a buzz around the ground than at Rotherham on Monday. Disappointingly, it wasn’t a sell-out, with the “corporate” seats clearly empty, but the rest of the stadium had filled up nicely. Germany were odds-on favourites but the Austrians frustrated them in the early stages and should have taken the lead when they hit the bar in the 12th minute, the first of three occasions when they struck the woodwork.

Germany, European Champions on six occasions since 1995, never really moved through the gears and took the lead in the 25th minute when Buhl forced a mistake from the Austrian defence then crossed into the box where Alexandra Popp, unselfishly left the ball to the arriving Lina Magull who slotted home to open the scoring.

With just two trains an hour from Kew Bridge thousands of fans streamed out of the stadium as the game entered the final ten minutes and would have missed Popp putting the game out of reach of the Austrians, capitalising on a mistake by the keeper to send the Germans through to the last four.

Fortunately, England won’t face the old enemy, until the final at Wembley, if at all. But there’s a familiar story to the progress of the side although France may have something to say about that in the semi-finals.

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