Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 77 – Five-star England Belt the ‘Old Enemy’

It’s fair to say that England have been West Germany/Germany’s bunnies on the football pitch ever since they won the World Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1966 with the exception of an Alan Shearer inspired 1-0 win against a quite awful German side at Euro 2000.

Germany had defeated England at the 1970 World Cup after being 2-0 down, there was Italia ‘90 and who can forget Euro 96 at Wembley proving Venables had a unique talent at gutting nations other than Australia. It was with great apprehension that England travelled to the Olympiastadion in Munich for their 2002 World Cup qualifier against Germany on the night of September 1 2001.

In the corresponding fixture at Wembley (the last international to be played at the old Wembley stadium before demolition) Germany had won 1-0 in a godawful match thanks to a low free kick taken by Dietmar Hamann. The loss prompted Kevin Keegan to walk out on yet another job which prompted the FA to look abroad and bring in Serie A title winning Lazio manager and professional fanny merchant Sven Goran Eriksson.

Under Eriksson the more Sun Newspaper orientated English fans spat the dummy about Johnny Foreigner taking over the job but England didn’t drop points again in the group with wins over Finland, Albania and Greece. They now faced Germany who had a six point lead in the group with a game in hand. Both sides had winnable games at home in the final game so a win to England against Germany and then in their extra fixture against Albania were needed to get them in to top spot and on the plane to Japan/South Korea without the need for a tricky play off.

The lead up had a slanging match in the press with the Germans claiming that David Seaman was error prone compared to their golden boy Oliver Kahn. So with German flags flying and the Bavarian crowd hoping to qualify for the World Cup with a win over the old enemy the game kicked off and everything went to script initially.

With only six minutes gone Carsten Jancker spilled home a goal after Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell had let the tall striker have all the time in the world to collect the headed on ball from Oliver Neuville that had been fed to him by Ballack. It didn’t take long for England to get back on level terms when Kahn was caught horribly out of position. Steven Gerrard had passed a ball from the right in to the middle of the pitch to Gary Neville who in headed the ball in to the area. Kahn came flapping out and didn’t get to the ball in time leaving Nick Barmby to head down to Michael Owen and Owen finished easily.

The game sunk in to an arm wrestle (with the exception of a horrible miss from Sebastian Diesler) until just on half time when the then 21 year old Gerrard scored one his trademark screamers to put England ahead. After a free kick on the right had been blocked the ball came back to Beckham and quickly he crossed the ball with his left foot to the edge of the area. Rio Ferdinand headed the ball back to a waiting Gerrard who controlled the ball before hitting an unstoppable shot past Kahn’s right, 2-1 literally on half time.

Germany were in a world of trouble just after the break when Beckham again started a move with a right footed cross in to the area to Emile Heskey. Heskey headed down to an untracked Owen who managed to slot the ball past Kahn and make it 3-1. Owen was the kind of form that made him unstoppable at his peak and had a hat-trick on 65 minutes. Then Liverpool teammate Gerrard passed through a static German defence to Owen who ignored the calls from Heskey to square it to him unmarked at the edge of the box and slotted home from a tight angle, 4-1. Heskey could have felt compelled to complain that Owen was being greedy (like most great goal poachers he was) but even Heskey would get on the scoresheet for England.

Paul Scholes collected a pass over the top from Beckham and ran towards the German goal before his pin point cross found Heskey who held off his marker and slotted home, 5-1. By now the English fans were in a euphoric state of celebration and wondering when the DVD would be released while the Germans were not waving their flags now and mourning their quite impressive home record before whistling their own players before full time.

5-1 it finished and England were not only in the box seat to qualify for the World Cup but they had also humiliated their arch rivals in their own backyard like never before. The English press went in to frenzy with your usual ‘greatest ever’ stories and the sales of dear little England flags on cabs and cars went through the roof. Eriksson was proclaimed as a new messiah to complete the tall poppy transformation while Owen was again a hero for his country, Beckham had won back some more respect and Seaman had done next to nothing while watching Kahn get humiliated at the other end.

Beckham would score a brilliant free kick against Greece in the last minute of the last game to take England to Japan/South Korea but of course Germany would have the last laugh and make the final some nine months later with England going down meekly to the Brazilians. You had to give it to England this time though, they certainly created a memorable moment with this surprise thrashing in Munich. The stoic German defensive stereotype had been shattered.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Dilettante. Traffic Nerd. Behind the Almanac World Cup 100. Keen Cat, Cardie, Socceroo/Matilda, Glory Bhoy.

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