Germany players celebrate after teammate Sara Daebritz scored their side's second goal during their Women's World Cup round of 16 match against Nigeria at Stade del Alpes in Grenoble on Saturday. Photo: Laurent Cipriani/AP

GRENOBLE – Germany captain Alexandra Popp hailed a “perfect day” after leading her team into the last eight of the Women’s World Cup with a hard-fought 3-0 win over underdogs Nigeria on Saturday. 

Popp, 28, scored a 20th minute opener and celebrated her 100th cap as Germany became the first team to reach the quarter-finals.

“It was a perfect day today. We put a lot of pressure on the Nigerians and the early goal gave us stability,” Popp told broadcaster ZDF.

“I am so happy for Poppi. It was a special game for her today, and she gave absolutely everything,” added coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.

Voss-Tecklenburg’s side are yet to concede a goal in their four games at the World Cup so far.

Goalkeeper Almuth Schult admitted that she had one eye on predecessor Nadine Angerer’s record of seven clean sheets at a single World Cup. 

“Of course it would be great if I can break the record, but the most important thing is that we won. We are so happy to be in the quarter-finals.”

Popp gave Germany the lead on 20 minutes after Lina Magull’s in-swinging corner inside the far post. 

The goal was allowed to stand after a video referral ruled that team mate Svenja Huth had not blocked the goalkeeper’s vision from an offside position, but Popp complained after the match that the players had been left in the dark over the referral. 

“There were moments with VAR today where we didn’t know what was happening,” she said.

Magull was involved again as Germany doubled the lead minutes later.

The midfielder was caught on the knee as Nigerian left-back Evelyn Nwabouku attempted to clear a loose ball in the area. 

After reviewing the incident on the touchline, the referee awarded Germany a penalty, and striker Sara Daebritz made no mistake from 12 yards.

Three yellow cards were awarded in the second half as the Nigerians were unable to battle their way back into the game on a sweltering evening in Grenoble. 

Schueller put paid to their hopes on 82 minutes, pouncing on a mistake from Halimat Ayinde and smashing the ball into the bottom corner. 

Germany will face either Sweden or Canada, who play on Monday, in the quarter-final next weekend.

AFP