Since that dramatic turnaround in World Cup 1970, the Germans always had the edge over their fiercest enemy England in the showpiece events. Even if the matches came close, the Germans always smiled – agony had been the best friend for England whenever they faced Germany; but every domination and agony has an end and at Wembley today, finally, England beat Germany in a major event.

The build-up to the high-voltage match was tensed and exciting at the same time. After the back to back thrilling encounters yesterday, yet another, the dramatic encounter was expected. But the match failed to live up to the expectation. It was a dull affair, given the kind of players both the side possessed –at one point it was all about exploiting the moments – England exploited well, the Germans failed.

Gareth Southgate did not start with Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish and stuck to the plan that has helped him till now. Their overall, build-up was slow and it affected them in the final third whereas Germany lacked the spark and intent – which always had been their trademark while playing against England. It seemed that the Germans were trying to content and utilize during the transitions – even that was quite average.

Within eight minutes, Jordan Pickford rushed out of his penalty area under pressure from Thomas Muller but Raheem Sterling could not control it. Germany broke up-field with Goretzka on the ball and Declan Rice fouled him on the edge of the England penalty area.

The Germans earned a free-kick in a very suitable area, but the attempt lacked intent.

From a central position, Sterling tried to curl one inside the right upright from distance. Manuel Neuer flung himself to his left to put the ball out for a corner.

Harry Maguire connected with the delivery from the corner flag but headed the ball straight into Neuer’s gloves.

A great ball into the channel by Kalvin Phillips was collected by Trippier, who sent down a cross into the German penalty area. Harry Maguire won a free header but sent the ball high and wide.

Pickford was in action again as he blocked at the feet of Timo Werner at the edge of his six-yard box as the German striker ran on to a through ball from Kai Havertz and tried to find the far corner.

In the stoppage time, a dreadful pass by Muller was intercepted by Sterling, who advanced through the centre. He charged forwards and was tackled on the edge of the German penalty area. The ball squirted towards Kane, who looked like he can’t miss but Mats Hummels stretched out a leg and relieved him of possession as he tries to take the ball around Neuer.

Surely, that was the best moment of the first half, otherwise, the flow of the match was triggering enough yawning among the people present at Wembley and those who were watching from home.

After the break, Havertz swung his boot at a bouncing ball that was cleared his way – a terrific rising drive which Pickford did well to palm over the bar.

Even after an hour, the deadlock was not broken and Southgate made the most important and impactful substitution – Grealish was on and he would prove his worth in no time.

In the seventy-sixth minute, Sterling started and finished a brilliant move, in which Kane and then Grealish played the ball out wide to Luke Shaw. His low cross was inch-perfect and Sterling slotted home from six yards.

The deadlock was finally, broken and Wembley went wild.

With just ten minutes remaining, straight through on goal with two defenders chasing him, Muller shot wide from the edge of the penalty area and missed but hats off to Pickford for charging off his line and giving the German as little as possible to aim at.

With just four minutes remaining, Shaw advanced from midfield, charging forward and played the ball wide to Grealish on the left. His low cross was headed home by Kane from an almost kneeling position on the edge of the six-yard box – and that was it – there would no famous German bounce back.


England advance to the quarterfinals and for Germany, it was the end of an era.

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