There seemed no imminent danger when Germany's Giulia Gwinn picked up possession outside her area following a cleared England corner but once she had advanced 20 metres and released Stefanie Sanders down the right, English alarm bells were rightly ringing. Germany's No9 was on a hat-trick and, as she had done all game, she ran towards the England goal with power, pace and purpose before bamboozling defenders Mayumi Pacheco and Grace Fisk with a clever turn that sent them crashing into goalkeeper Sandy MacIver. All that remained for Sanders was a simple tap-in.
Although the forward proceeded to smash in a fourth, and Germany's fifth in Sunday's 5-0 dismantling of England which secured second place in Group A and a semi-final against Switzerland, Sanders prizes the hat-trick goal as her favourite of the six she has plundered so far in Iceland. "The fourth goal yesterday when I was running and the England players were falling over," she insisted.
If England struggled to match her attacking momentum from the moment she teed up Tanja Pawollek's second-minute opener in Fylkir, they were not alone: the 17-year-old from Neuenkirchen also struck four times in qualifying for this UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship as well as twice in her first eight senior outings for club side SV Werder Bremen, helping them win promotion to the Frauen-Bundesliga.
"I am fast and really dangerous in front of goal – they are my main strengths," said Sanders, who hit the target twice against the Icelandic hosts before drawing a blank in the title holders' heavy matchday two defeat by Spain. "We were very disappointed, it was a bad game for us, but in the end I think it was a good experience for us to see how it can go [when you lose]," explained the teenager of a result that left Anouschka Bernhard's team risking elimination. "It took one day to recover because then we had to concentrate on England. We couldn't think too much about Spain. But it was a very good game from all the team yesterday. I was very happy that we reached the semi-finals – that was really important."
Having claimed the necessary three points to proceed to Wednesday's knockout bout with the Swiss, Sanders is targeting what would be a fifth WU17 crown for her country – and also a breakthrough success for the girls in her dressing room. "I think everybody wants to win this cup because this is the first national-team tournament we can play, this is our chance to impress," she said. "The team spirit is really good and every player can count on everyone else." With a spearhead like Sanders, whose longer-term ambition is to "play maybe one day in the Germany A team and to play a good role in the women's Bundesliga", anything is possible.
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