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  Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Five-star Germany outclass Russia
Germany 5-0 Russia

Germany showed just why they are favourites to retain their European crown after they took apart a handy Russian side in Erfurt.

A stunning goal by Birgit Prinz in the second half capped an impressive personal performance - but also an excellent team effort.

Bettina Wiegmann, Maren Meinert and Sandra Smisek (2) weighed in with the other four to leave Germany sitting imperiously at the top of Group A.

Germany, buoyed by their home support, started brightly and should have taken an early lead.

The hosts had three gilt-edged oppportunities in the opening 15 minutes, all of which they failed to convert.

Prinz blazed over the bar from just inside the area and will be annoyed not to have done better.

Dominant

Moments later, Prinz set up Meinert whose shot went just wide of the post.

The most glaring miss was made by the usually reliable Claudia Mueller on 14 minutes.

Mueller, who scored twice in Germany's 3-1 win over Sweden on Saturday, was left unmarked in the Russian penalty.

But she directed her shot at the keeper who gladly smothered the ball.

Mueller did have the ball in the back of the net on 29 minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out for off-side.

The Russians were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure, opting to play on the counter attack.

But such was the dominance of the hosts, Russia's raids into the German half were few and far between.

Wiegmann blasted a Prinz cross into the side netting after Mueller had just failed to connect with her head.

But the German number 10 redeemed herself just before half-time when she gave her side the lead with a slightly bizarre goal.

Prinz was again the provider, swinging in a wicked corner which the Russian keeper only managed to parry - onto Wiegmann's head and into the goal.

It was just reward for Germany's first-half endeavour.

Show time

Clearly rallied by their goal, the home side came out after the interval eager to add to their lead.

And it was again Prinz who added a touch of class to an impressive German performance.

Russia again failed to clear their lines, allowing Prinz to unleash a superb shot into the far corner leaving the keeper with absolutely no chance.

With 49 minutes on the clock, the game was already over but Germany pressed forward in search of more goals.

The home crowd were provided with some entertaining football as Germany outclassed the Russian defence.

Meinert got a third on 69 minutes courtesy of Prinz' cut-back across the face of goal.

Player-of-the-match Smisek added a fourth on 73 minutes with a well-struck shot.

And the same player completed the rout just before the final whistle.

Germany now go into the game against England on Saturday assured of place in the semi-finals - but will want to hold onto top spot to avoid the world's number one side Norway.

Going on this performance, the best England can hope for is that Germany rest some of their key players in Jena.


Final

Semi-finals

Group A

Group B

Tournament news

Background features

Finals focus

ENGLAND SQUAD
Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Womens Euro 2001 stories

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