England stay perfect with win over Germany
England capped their Group A campaign in style with a 3-0 win over home side Germany to qualify for the IBSA Blind Football European Championship semi-finals with a perfect record.
Having already recorded two 6-0 wins over Romania and Italy, and well as a 7-0 drubbing of France, Germany posed the biggest challenge of England all week.
But Jon Pugh’s side took it all in their stride to maintain their perfect defensive record and head to the semi-finals in a confident mood.
Yet another quick start gave England the lead with Brandon Coleman firing home from a free-kick after Robin Williams rolled the ball into his path less than two minutes in.
Coleman shuffled right past the wall and arrowed an angled shot into the left corner to give England the advantage.
An equaliser almost came just over a minute later but Taime Kuttig’s free kick came back off the post, onto the head of England goalkeeper Dylan Malpas and out to safety.
Half way through the first half Dan English embarked on a trademark mazy run down the pitch having dispossessed Germany in his own third, but his well-struck shot flew just wide of the left post.
Again it was Kuttig causing the most problems for England’s defence, and the German created space for his own shot but skewed wide with the goal at his mercy.
The Germans were putting up a stern test but it was still England looking the most likely to score in the first half, with English forcing a fine stop from Sebastian Themel.
The goalkeeper almost then cost his side though as, with six minutes of the half remaining, he cleared a ball outside of his area, before getting up to save Coleman’s well-struck penalty.
Goalkeepers continued to dominate in the first half as Malpas again saved from Kuttig, with a lightning-quick reaction to prevent an equaliser with four minutes to play.
And the drama continued in the first half as a German foul on Malpas was their sixth of the half and resulted in an eight-metre penalty for England, but Coleman could only blaze it over the bar.
An even opening to the second half saw tension levels ease somewhat as neither side could make a further breakthrough.
But as the half wore on though, the home side’s need for an equaliser to seal semi-final qualification shone through.
Williams almost took advantage of that and stung the palms of Themel with 12 minutes to play, before both Kuttig and Alexander Fangmann forced fine stops from Malpas.
Germany continued to press for an equaliser, and looked the most likely to score, but when English converted a free-kick with six minutes to play it all-but ended the home hopes of reaching the semi-finals.
Malpas was again the busier keeper in the closing stages, saving smartly from Fangmann before the German wasted a gilt-edged chance to get one back with three minutes to play.
And the home side were made to pay for that as Williams sealed the win in the 38th minute with a shot through the legs of Themel after a fine arcing run from the corner.
Germany’s day was typified in the final minute as Fangmann fired a penalty straight at Malpas, who tipped it over the bar to ensure Germany did not make the semi-finals.