Germany's Alexandra Popp takes a shot during the Women's World...

Germany's Alexandra Popp takes a shot during the Women's World Cup Group H soccer match between Germany and Morocco in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 24, 2023. Credit: AP/Victoria Adkins

Melbourne, Australia — Alexandra Popp made an impressive return to the international stage with a pair of goals in Germany’s 6-0 win over Morocco in its opening game at the Women's World Cup.

T he veteran striker missed the loss to England in the 2022 European Championship final after experiencing muscular problems prior to the match. She'd scored in each of Germany’s previous matches in the competition, becoming the first player to score in five consecutive games in the women’s tournament.

“For me, personally, I’ve been happy I’ve been healthy all year,” Popp said. “I can support my team. That is important to me, and that gives me strength, and I hope that stays the same throughout the tournament.”

Against Morocco, Popp showed why she is such a crucial piece of a German team that was considered one of the pre-tournament favorites.

She scored the first two goals of the night, heading in goals in the 11th and 39th minutes and celebrating the second by “calling” home and pointing to the sky. She borrowed the idea from the 1980s move E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

“I ‘phone home’ because I’m a long way from home," she said. "It’s not just for the people who sit in front of the TV at home, but also the people who can’t be with us anymore.”

With the brace, Popp tied Inka Grings as Germany’s third all-time leading scorer with 64 goals. She now has five goals across the four World Cups she has played in.

Germany players celebrate after Germany's Alexandra Popp, 4th right, scored...

Germany players celebrate after Germany's Alexandra Popp, 4th right, scored the opening goal during the Women's World Cup Group H soccer match between Germany and Morocco in Melbourne, Australia, Monday, July 24, 2023. Credit: AP/Hamish Blair

Popp finished her recent season with Wolfsburg as the top scorer in the Frauen-Bundesliga with 16 goals. The club was unable to capture the league championship last season, although Popp has helped them capture seven titles since her debut in 2012.

In 2016, Popp won her first Olympic gold medal, helping Germany beat Sweden.

And Germany fans will hope that Popp can continue to show the form she showed in Melbourne as it pursues its third World Cup title.

“She’s an amazing player, and I think you could also see today on the pitch that she’s always there,” teammate Sara Däbritz said. “She scored two goals, two important ones. So we’re very happy to have her on our team. She’s one of the leaders.”

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