KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: Germany have won eight of the 12 UEFA Women’s Euro titles and delivered a solid start in their bid to regain the crown they lost in Netherlands five years ago.

A 2-0 victory over equally highly-rated Spain at Brentford followed up perfectly on an opening 4-0 defeat of Denmark and established them on top of Group D. Two wins, six goals scored, none conceded. The quarter-finals beckon already.

German teamwork, discipline and relentless effort proved ruthlessly effective against a Spanish side who played the more entertaining football and enjoyed more possession but fatally lacked a finishing touch.

Happiness on the pitch – and in the stand

This loss ended a 24-match unbeaten run for the injury-weakened Spaniards, beaten for the first time since a 1-0 defeat by world champions the United States in the SheBelieves Cup in March 2020.

They suffered the worst possible start. Only two minutes into the match goalkeeper Sandra Panos miskicked a clearance and Germany’s Klara Buhl was only too delighted to stab the ball straight back into the net.

Seven minutes later Spain could have been level. This time a German defensive misunderstanding left Lucia Garcia clear to run in on goal but keeper Merle Frohms was quick off her line and the Spanish forward stepped too far wide before putting an angled shot into the side net.

Spain controlled possession but sought in vain to capitalise. Patri had a low drive from outside the penalty box saved by the diving Frohms who was then fortunate to see a lofted effort from Mariona drift narrowly wide of her left-hand post.

The Germans set up fewer attacks but were more direct and dangerous when they did and duly extended their lead in the 36th minute. Spain’s defence was again found wanting as captain Alexandra Popp, leading by example, headed home a right-wing corner from Felicitas Rauch.

Breakaway threat

Popp was a perpetual handful. In the 58th minute her breakaway dash was clumsily foiled by last defender Irene Paredes. Popp claimed a free kick and red card for her opponent but Stephanie Frappart, top referee in the women’s game, shoot her head to the German fans’ annoyance.

Both teams rang the changes ahead of a breathless final 20 minutes. Spain camped in the German half and a volley from Mariona drew the finger-tipping save of the match from Frohms.

As ever Germany resisted. Their tackling and covering was sharp, their interceptions were textbook and victory over their most threatening group rivals was thoroughly deserved.