It may not be much of a consolation, but England have won the Euro 96 Fair Play Trophy - and received fulsome praise from the tournament organisers.
Whatever happens in Sunday's final between Germany and the Czech Republic, England cannot be overtaken at the top of the Fair Play chart. Lennart Johansson, the president of Uefa, said: "I am pleased about this. It is no secret that I have always admired English football, its traditions and attitudes. During Euro 96, it has been like the good old days. It was not only football coming home, I have felt at home too."
England will receive their trophy during the half-time interval at Wembley on Sunday. Terry Venables, the outgoing England coach, said: "It's not what I wanted, but it's better than nothing, isn't it?" The Dutch supporters, voted the winners of the Uefa 'crowd assessment' competition, will also be honoured.
England also won the Fifa Fair Play award at the 1990 World Cup in Italy - when they also lost in a semi-final to Germany after a penalty shoot- out.
The Fair Play points - assessed by Uefa delegates and based on the behaviour of players and supporters and their success "in abiding by the spirit as well as the laws of the game" - could have determined group placings, if teams had been otherwise equal.
EURO 96 FAIR PLAY STANDINGS: 1 England 8.23pts; 2 Denmark 8.19; 3 Italy 8.00; 4 Netherlands 7.86; 5 Romania 7.81; 6 France 7.66; 7 Scotland 7.62; 8 Turkey 7.52; 9 Germany 7.43; 10 Russia 7.43; 11 Portugal 7.43; 12 Croatia 7.36; 13 Bulgaria 7.14; 14 Spain 7.07; 15 Czech Republic 6.91; 16 Switzerland 6.76.
CROWD ASSESSMENT RANKINGS: 1 Netherlands 4.50; 2 Scotland 4.33; 3 Bulgaria 4.00; 4 Czech Republic 4.00; 5 Denmark 4.00; 6 England 4.00; 7 Spain 4.00; 8 France 4.00; 9 Portugal 4.00; 10 Romania 4.00; 11 Russia 4.00; 12 Switzerland 4.00; 13 Italy 3.66; 14 Turkey 3.66; 15 Germany 3.60; 16 Croatia 3.33.
Jubilation in Germany
If Germany had lost Wednesday's semi-final penalty shoot-out against England, the German media would have claimed a case of floodlight robbery. The down-market tabloid Bild was not the only paper to claim that the headed "goal" by Stefan Kuntz during sudden-death extra time should not have been disallowed.
"Just like 30 years ago," Bild declared. "This time it was a German goal, and the ball was in the net... but it didn't count, and that's a scandal!"
Express took a similar line: "Just like 30 years ago there was a whiff of a fix - but who cares? Moller's goal means the Germans can rejoice and England has to grieve. Sorry Gazza, sorry England!"
The Bild back page headline "Battle of Wembley - A Historic Victory" appeared to allude to the militaristic anti-German tone struck up by the English tabloids in the run-up to the match, which caused a big stir in Germany.
However, any resentment was forgotten amid the feeling that Wembley stadium, the scene of Geoff Hurst's famous "was it over the line?" goal in the 1966 World Cup final, had at last become "hallowed ground" for Germany.
Kadlec the true captain
Miroslav Kadlec, the Czechs' shoot-out hero in Wednesday's semi- final win over France, had almost forgotten what it was like to take a spot-kick. "My last penalty was four or five years ago," the Czechs' wily captain explained. "That's why I hesitated and five went before me. Nobody wanted to take the sixth, so I went because I didn't want the team to argue about it."
Kadlec gave his side a 6-5 shoot-out victory after Lubos Kubik, who had taken the first penalty, had tried in vain the take the sixth kick, before being stopped by a linesman.
Bamber Bridge joy
One Lancashire non-League club are pleased that the Czech Republic have reached the final of Euro 96, having formed a bond with the eastern Europeans before the tournament.
In their last warm-up friendly, the Czechs enjoyed a 9-1 win over Bamber Bridge, the champions of the UniBond League, whose players and supporters have followed the Czechs' fortunes ever since. "We are delighted they have got through to the final - but it's such a pity they won't be playing England," the Bamber Bridge secretary, Dave Spencer, said. "We might get half a dozen tickets to Wembley now!"
EURO 96 XI
Chosen from the semi-finals
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