English fans lament German success

For an English soccer fan it's hard to swallow, but Germany's in the World Cup final again.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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For an English football fan it's hard to swallow, but Germany's in the World Cup final again. Germany beat South Korea to reach the final for a record seventh time on Tuesday. Watching from their TV screens at home, millions of English fans couldn't believe that this was the same German team England beat 5-1 in Munich during the qualifying round. England is back home beaten in the quarterfinal by Brazil and somehow that come-from-behind victory at Munich's Olympic Stadium, where Michael Owen scored a hat-trick to spark huge celebrations back home, seems to have lost some of its lustre. That triumph in September put England on the road to going to the World Cup as group winner, while Germany was left with getting there through the back door via the nail-biting playoffs. For once, England was looking back at the Germans. The victory also ended Germany's psychological hold over England in World Cup play. The English had not beaten the Germans in the competition since the famous extra time 4-2 victory in the 1966 final at Wembley. The Germans hit back by ousting defending titlist England in 1970 and then winning a penalty shootout in the 1990 semifinals. When qualifying started for 2002, Germany went to Wembley and scored a 1-0 victory to maintain the World Cup streak. Munich last September brought that to a spectacular end but the Germans appear to be having the last laugh. In London, the big selling Sun tabloid reflected on that September victory and how it had all turned around. "Just 10 months after Our Boys gave Oliver Kahn and his pals the mother of all beatings in their own Munich backyard, the country that made diving an art form are in sight of a fourth World Cup crown," the paper said. "It's enough to make you weep". German midfielder Dietmar Hamann, who plays in the Premier League for Liverpool, admitted the September loss had put German football at a low from which it struggled to recover. "It was disappointing, and we had a hard time after the England game,'' Hamann said. "We lost to the better team on the day. Nobody was thinking about the World Cup final after that game, because it was in jeopardy that we would get to the World Cup. But in football this happens, and football has its ups and downs. We kept on playing. We kept on trying and we did our best. That's why we are where we are now," Hamann said. (AP)