LONDON: Spain rebounded from the loss of star midfielder Alexia Putellas by beating Finland 4-1, as Germany also got their Euro 2022 campaign off to a flying start with a 4-0 win over Denmark on Friday.
La Roja had been pre-tournament favorites until the cruciate ligament injury to reigning female Ballon d’Or winner Putellas in training on Tuesday.
However, Jorge Vilda’s side showed why they are still contenders to win a first major women’s tournament despite falling behind inside a minute to Linda Sallstrom’s strike.
Goals from Irene Paredes, Aitana Bonmati, Lucia Garcia and Mariona Caldentey extended Spain’s unbeaten run stretching back to March 2020.
Walking with crutches and decked out in a Spain shirt, Putellas was in attendance to offer encouragement to her teammates.
But the shock of losing their star woman rolled over into the slow start.
Anna Westerlund’s long ball forward played Sallstrom clean through and the Paris FC striker produced a cool finish in off the far post.
Spain settled into their passing rhythm as they enjoyed 70 percent of the possession.
But with all-time top goalscorer Jennifer Hermoso also out of the tournament through injury, they had to rely on the unusual route of crosses into the box to turn the game around.
Captain Paredes started the comeback when she bulleted home a header from Caldentey’s corner.
The diminutive Bonmati then produced a stunning header into the top corner and celebrated by going over to salute her Barcelona teammate Putellas.
“I knew if I had the chance to score a goal in the game, the nicest thing would be to celebrate it with and dedicate it to her,” said Bonmati.
“It says a lot about our team. We have overcome adversities and bad news. We know how to pick ourselves up.”
Garcia made sure of the points 15 minutes from time when she nodded Maria Leon’s free-kick into the bottom corner before Caldentey slotted home a penalty with the last kick of the game.
Germany produced a stunning display to dismantle Euro 2017 finalists Denmark in London.
The eight-time winners were dominant from the start and could have been out of sight before halftime as Felicitas Rauch twice hit the crossbar.
Lina Magull finally made the Germans’ pressure count. The Bayern Munich striker blasted into the roof of the net after charging down Stine Pedersen’s attempted clearance.
Lea Schueller headed home from a corner to double Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s women’s lead just before the hour mark.
Svenja Huth was robbed of the goal her performance deserved by the offside flag.
But Germany rounded off a superb performance with two more goals in the final 12 minutes.
Lena Lattwein smashed home a loose ball from close range before Alexandra Popp rounded off a fine team move by heading in at the back post.
“We played an outstanding game. We were at it right away and created plenty of scoring chances that we didn’t really take advantage of in the first half,” said Voss-Tecklenburg.
“We were incredibly dominant and aggressive. It was a great team effort by everyone involved.”
Denmark had been tipped as contenders for the title, but their miserable night was summed up when Kathrine Moller Kuhl was sent off in stoppage time for a second bookable offense.
Germany face Spain next in a blockbuster clash at the Brentford Community Stadium on Tuesday.