Germany Crush South Africa, Cruise into 2019 Women's World Cup Knockout Stage

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2019

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE - JUNE 17: Alexandra Popp of Germany celebrates with teammates after scoring her team's third goal during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group B match between South Africa and Germany at Stade de la Mosson on June 17, 2019 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Germany completed a perfect group-stage campaign at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup as they beat South Africa 4-0 on Monday.  

As a result of picking up three wins from three in Group B, the German side advance to the last 16 as group winners and will face one of the best third-placed sides.

Germany were strong favourites going into Monday's clash at Montpellier's Stade de la Mosson, and they secured a comfortable victory after goals from Melanie Leupolz, Sara Dabritz, Alexandra Popp and Lina Magull. 

South Africa will return home from France 2019 after a disappointing campaign in which they lost all three group games.

Germany had been unspectacular in their opening two games in France as they beat both China and Spain 1-0.

On Monday, though, they could have scored 10. Popp and Dabritz both squandered early opportunities.

But it did not take long for the two-time world champions to go ahead.

In the 14th minute, Verena Schweers floated in a corner, and an unmarked Leupolz headed home from the six-yard line:

Minutes later, Dabritz forced the first of numerous fine saves from South Africa goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, and Popp blazed over the bar on the follow-up.

Dabritz made no mistake just before the hour, though, when she turned home Germany's second after Dlamini could only palm away Schweers' cross-cum-shot.

Two more glaring misses from Svenja Huth and Marina Hegering were then followed by Popp's World Cup opener five minutes from the break:

The 28-year-old striker rose brilliantly to plant a fierce header from eight yards into the back of the net and effectively wrap up the contest before half time.

In the second half, it could have got embarrassing for South Africa had Dlamini not been on hand to save further efforts from Leupolz, Dabritz and Lea Schuller:

She also pushed Hegering's header onto the post in the build-up to Germany's fourth just before the hour, but Magull was on hand to sweep home from less than a yard out.

South Africa had their chances for a consolation, as Janine van Wyk's speculative effort from 40 yards whistled over the bar and Thembi Kgatlana forced a save out of Almuth Schult.

But Germany had dropped a few gears by then and still caused their own problems in the dying stages. 

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