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After 2:0, 2:3 – A bitter start to the Women's European Championship qualifiers

After 2:0, 2:3 – A bitter start to the Women's European Championship qualifiers

After early goals from Freiburg's Elaine Campbell (9th, 16th), there was a buzz in the air at LASK against the record European champions. Clara Buhl with a double strike (39, 49) and Julia Guinn (63) with a controversial penalty kick turned the match on its head. The Germans were rewarded for the clear improvement in performance after the break. However, they only occupy second place in the Group A4 qualifying table, with the first leaders being Iceland after a clear 3-0 win over visitors Poland.

Virginia Kirchberger and Katarina Schechtel, who were moved to the starting lineup, benefited from the absence of injured fans Sarah Zadrazel and Katarina Nasschenwing, who were cheering in the stands. Austria's Schechtel defended on the right flank in the back four, with Frankfurt's Kirchberger, who was later honored by the Austrian Football Association for her 100th cap before the match, inside. Central defender Celina Dejene moved up one level in defensive midfield and took over the role of Zadrazil.

There was no trace of coordination difficulties. Great courage, high aggression and strong pressure caused problems for Germany, the “big sister”, as Sarah Buntigham had previously called the opponent. Already in the first few minutes, the ball was moving well for ÖFB and the opening goal seemed like only a matter of time. After Hanshaw's cross, not much was missing from Saif's finish (sixth place). Three minutes later, Campbell scored the goal of the day. The former Altacher player first beat Sarah Durson and then, with due luck, also beat Katherine Hendrich and sent the ball from the pentagon with her left into the short corner.

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Just ten minutes later, the 23-year-old scored a powerful cross from Barbara Dunst's cross free-kick from six metres. The Germans were not present offensively at that stage, Sioki Noskin changed that with two shots (21, 31). On the other hand, Campbell slipped near the edge of the penalty area, wasting a potentially dangerous opportunity (33). The great candidate did not return to the match except through a mistake he committed. Marina Georgieva dribbled the ball and it ended up deflecting to Pohl, who fired a corner kick from the penalty area.

But the sand didn't reach ÖFB's equipment, and goal number three was up in the air. Lily Burtschiller almost surprised Merle Frooms with a shot at the near post, after Dejene headed over the resulting corner (45th minute each). At the break, Horst Hrubesch, the veteran German coach who played in Austria, seemed to have found the right words. The two-time world champion showed his true colours, suddenly setting the tone and quickly equalising. Nüsken played with Bühl, who completed her double set perfectly.

Things got even more bitter for ÖFB just over half an hour later. Laura Frijang went down after colliding with Manuela Zinnsberger, who was sitting on the ground, and Swedish referee Tess Olofsson whistled for what was at least a very controversial penalty, which Gwyn scored safely at the second attempt. The scorer almost scored an own goal in the 66th minute, but otherwise there was another goal from the German Football Association in the air. Zinsberger saved her team from falling behind with good saves (68, 74).

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As in the 2022 European Championship (0:2), there was no happy ending in the second competitive match against Germany, and the fourth defeat occurred in the fourth international match. The 7,500 spectators ensured the second-largest attendance in the women's history of the Austrian Football Association, but hopes of a new record clearly did not materialise.