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Women's Euro 2017: Germany beat Italy 2-1, defenders deliver the goals

Defenders Josephine Henning and Babett Peter broke Germany's goal drought in a tense 2-1 victory. Italy, who finished the game with 10 players, bow out of the competition as a result.

Germany 2 - 1 Italy
(Henning 19', Peter 67' pen --- Mauri 29')

Willem II Stadion, Tilburg

Having failed to find the net against Sweden, it was Germany's two central defenders who hit the target against Italy - securing Steffi Jones' team three points and putting them level on points with Sweden at the top of Group B. 

The result leaves Italy with no points, mathematically eliminated from Euro 2017 whatever result the Azzurri can muster in their last group game against Sweden. 

"We earned this win," coach Steffi Jones told public broadcaster ARD after the game. "We played the better football. Ultimately I'm happy with the three points."

The match started at a feverish tempo. Babett Peter headed just wide at a second-minute corner, and three minutes later Linda Dallmann narrowly missed after a flowing German attack. These forays were sandwiched by an Italian shot from distance that goalie Almuth Schult gathered up. 

Fussball EM 2017 der Frauen - Deutschland vs Italien 2:1 - Steffie Jones (Getty Images/M. Hitij)

Coach Steffi Jones praised her players after the game

The opening goal was enabled by a mistake from Italian keeper Laura Giuliani. She came to claim a Dzsenifer Marozsan free kick but let it through her grasp, allowing Josephine Henning to head the loose ball into an empty net.

Henning confessed after the match that the Italians had been a frustrating opponent to play.

"What's important is that we stuck at it and tried to find solutions," Henning said. "It's always nice when you can score a goal and help the team."

False sense of security 

After the opening goal, there followed perhaps Germany's best period of attacking play, with captain and star Dzsenifer Marozsan tormenting the Italian defenders with her mazy dribbles. Giuliani made several strong saves in this period, while the frame of her goal denied Sara Däbritz's powerful left-footed strike.

Yet 10 minutes after the opener, amid rampant German pressure, Italy caught the favorites cold on the counterattack. Striker Ilaria Mauro was on hand to connect with a cross from the left flank, nutmegging Schult in goal and putting Italy back in contention. 

It was the high point of a bittersweet first half for Mauro, who would be stretchered off the pitch with an injured ankle just before the break. 

Babett Peter ice-cool from the spot

Germany started the second half brightly. Striker Mandy Islacker - in for the injured Svenja Huth - hit the post just moments after the restart. Two minutes later, Islacker tried a header at goal, but Giuliani was able to tip it over the crossbar.

Fussball EM 2017 der Frauen - Deutschland vs Italien 2:1 (Getty Images/M. Hitij)

Mittag's penalty was hardly the most clear-cut call of the competition

In the end, Germany could only restore the lead from the penalty spot. Anja Mittag went to ground after slight contact from Giuliani, prompting the Ukrainian official to signal a penalty. Italy's defenders were furious at what they felt to be a soft call, Daniela Stracchi was booked for protesting too passionately.

With Germany's strikers misfiring, defender Babett Peter strode up to take the penalty, dispatching it with consummate ease. Peter put the ball in the bottom left corner; Giuliani dived the wrong way but probably couldn't have reached the well-placed shot even if she had guessed correctly.

Moments after this, with Italian tempers still flaring, Elisa Bartoli picked up her second yellow of the game. Down to 10 players, and needing an equalizer, Italy had a mountain to climb to keep themselves in the tournament.

The Italians could not recover, despite the best efforts of Barbara Bonansea, who forced Almuth Schult to make a spectacular late save to deny her direct free kick.

Sweden top Group B

In the evening's earlier game, Sweden beat Russia 2-0 to go top of the group, with a superior goal difference to Germany and the same four points. 

Sweden play Italy in their third and final group game, while Steffi Jones' side squares off against Russia. Russia, on three points, can still hope to reach the quarterfinals.

You can re-read our play-by-play coverage of Germany vs Italy below.

Women's Euro live: Germany vs. Italy