German power ends England's Euro dream
Monday, 29 June, 2009
Germany beat England 4-0 in the Final.
Jamie Bradbury in Malmo
England’s dreams of lifting the European Championship in Malmo were taken apart by Germany and a virtuoso performance by midfield playmaker Mesut Ozil.
Despite a bright start from England, Horst Hrubesch’s strong team had enough power, and a bit of fortune, to cope with everything England could put their way.
Gonzalo Castro’s opener and a second-half brace from Sandro Wanger handed the trophy to Germany and heaped heartbreak on Stuart Pearce and his team.
But it was Ozil who was the shining light on a good night for Germany, while other key performances from Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng made it a disappointing night for England.
With three players suspended, England made two changes to the semi-final starting eleven with Scott Loach replacing Joe Hart and Adam Johnson coming in for Gabriel Agbonlahor. Theo Walcott was given the central striker’s role.
And England came out firing, passing the ball better than they did against the Swedes in the semi. Walcott was given a chance to open the scoring as early as the third minute when James Milner fed a ball into the right-hand channel, Walcott was on it in a flash, getting behind the German defence, but fired wide from 15 yards.
England looked confident and relaxed, popping the ball around at the back and in midfield as Germany got men behind the ball. They were looking for the opening to release Theo Walcott, but well-timed German blocks kept him off the ball in dangerous areas.
However, the Germans soon got into their stride too and it was they who had the next opening as Ozil found room behind England’s midfield and ran at the back four. A one-two with Sami Khedira created the chance, but the Werder Bremen man saw his shot block by English legs.
Walcott then almost capitalised on a mistake by Andreas Beck, collecting the German’s loose pass, but another challenge kept him away.
Ozil was never far from the action, though, and this time his sublime pass between Micah Richards and Martin Cranie was latched onto by Gonzalo Castro and helped give Germany the advantage. It was a fine finish by the Bayer Leverkusen striker, clipping over the body of Loach and into the net with a quarter of the game gone.
Milner’s ball across the box moments later was asking to be turned home, then the Villa man lost his marker before bearing in on goal, but Jerome Boateng was across to clear the danger.
Michael Mancienne came on at the break, as Nedum Onuoha made way. And within the opening minute a good chance fell England’s way when Milner whipped over a cross from the right towards the back post. Adam Johnson fed it back in, but no white shirts were on hand to pounce inside the six yard area.
Then Germany extended their lead through a long range effort from playmaker Ozil. From all of 35 yards, he wound up before unleashing a vicious, swirling drive that bamboozled Loach diving to his right. The Watford man couldn’t get a strong enough hand to it as he dropped and the ball spun away from him and across the line.
Lee Cattermole came close to pulling one back just before the hour mark when a surging run by Mancienne set him free for a shot at goal. His arrow-like drive was good, but rising, and clipped the top of the bar on its way into the crowd.
The Three Lions were starting to get back into the game, and Milner was often free on the right. When he went around his marker and into the box with a step-over, he fired the ball across the face of the goal. Johnson, a yard out, flicked it past Manuel Neuer, but Beck arrived on the line to block and the ‘keeper scooped up.
Milner was causing more problems and a corner he won on the right was sent in by Johnson. Cattermole met the delivery at the far post with his head and it looked to be heading inside the far post, but again Beck was on hand to clear from the line. Things weren’t going England’s way.
The defensive abilities of Germany were tested again as Johnson broke forward and rolled through to Walcott bursting into the box. But the leg of the impressive Mats Hummels, sitting just in front of the back four, blocked its path.
The game was now stretched and Germany should have had the game wrapped up with 15 minutes left on the clock. It was that man Ozil again who raced past Cranie and squared across goal. Sandro Wagner needed just to connect and it was three, but somehow he failed to force home at the far post.
But with Cranie now down injured, England were trying to re-shape their defence when Noble lost possession. The ball was knocked to the left and the space vacated by Cranie, where Wagner bounded into the area. He made up for his miss seconds earlier, driving through Loach’s legs.
His second five minutes later was almost identical. In the same left channel, this time he cut inside substitute Jack Rodwell, and bent the ball with his right foot around Loach’s dive and into the net.
In the end an emphatic victory and it’s Germany and not England who take home the prize.
1 Manuel Neuer, 2 Andreas Beck, 3 Sebastian Beonisch, 4 Benedikt Howedes, 5 Jerome Boateng, 8 Sami Khedira (c), 10 Mesut Ozil (21 Marcel Schmelzer, 89), 13 Sandro Wagner, 14 Fabian Johnson (16 Daniel Schwaab, 69), 15 Mats Hummels (6 Dennis Aogo, 83), 20 Gonzalo Castro
Substitutes not used
12 Florian Fromlowitz, 23 Tobias Sippel, 7 Patrick Ebert, 11 Marko Marin, 17 Dennis Grote, 18 Daniel Adlung, 19 Anis Ben-Hatira, 22 Cinedu Ede
22 Scott Loach, 2 Martin Cranie (8 Craig Gardner, 79), 4 Lee Cattermole, 6 Nedum Onuoha (18 Michael Mancienne, 46), 7 James Milner, 10 Mark Noble (c), 11 Adam Johnson, 12 Fabrice Muamba (15 Jack Rodwell, 77), 14 Theo Walcott, 17 Micah Richards, 19 Kieran Gibbs
Substitutes not used
13 Joe Lewis, 3 Andrew Taylor, 5 Richard Stearman, 16 James Tomkins, 20 Andrew Driver, 23 Danny Rose
Joel De Bruyn, Gyorgy Ring