WEST GERMANY went nervously on to the World Cup Final last night, unable to crush the spirit or the challenge of nine fit Russians, nor dim the brilliance of their goalkeeper, Yashin.
England could be playing for the lot at Wembley tonight.
Jeered from Goodison Park by all but those who followed them, the Germans could offer no more than mediocrity to fans who for two weeks have witnessed moments of wondrous football.
There could be no acclaim for their semi-final display, only for their place at the pinnacle of the championship.
They could never master a match that should have been theirs from the tenth minute, when Russian wing half Sabo limped-to the left touchline, destined to play no further part in the rest of it. A match that was theirs when an already crippled right winger, Chislenko, was banished by Italian referee Lo Bello, for a ridiculous foul on German forward Held a minute before half-time.
As the game wore on, anxiety strangled their passing, their confidence, and finally their composure.
No amount of touchline pleading from manager Helmut Schoen could prevent panic spreading through his side as Soviet spirit soared into one last wave of assault.
The Germans almost disintegrated, suddenly losing everything they had worked so hard for. Great gaps appeared in their defence and centre- half Schulz was suddenly groping amongst Russian forwards like a blind man lost in a stream of traffic.
Two goals the Germans had by then. But they played as though two would not be enough against the red raiders.
With two minutes to go, the Russians went in on the right and a high centre ran loose for Porkujan to sweep it home.
From the re-start the giant Karl Schnellinger was kicking for safety, with his teammates looking anxiously for a sign of how many minutes were left.
But back came the Russians, this time on the left, and again with a centre that exposed the German inefficiency in the air.
Porkujan was unmarked but, with Banishevskly pleading for opportunity, the Russian headed it over. Then came the whistle - and the Germans were through to the final.
They will remember the thundering Merseyside chant of "England, England." Certainly Liverpool will expect better things from England than these two teams provided.
The Russians looked heavy-footed, anxious and more determined to destroy a German threat than to create their own. They owed much to the brilliance of the man who is still the greatest goalkeeper in the world, the incomparable Lev Yashin.
It was Yashin's brilliance, his bravery, his ability to produce every known sort of save, that kept the Germans at bay when they were at their best.
When the Germans did score, it was a goal of brilliance. Schnellinger, with a great tackle, ended a right wing run by Chislenko. With the Russian winger still lying hurt, Schnellinger swept the ball 40 yards into the path of a run by inside forward Haller - and even the great Yashin was beaten by Haller's shot.
What followed this 43rd minute goal was almost as incredible as some of the other World Cup scenes we have seen.
Chislenko limped off for treatment, nursing a badly twisted left knee. He limped back, lost possession of the ball and immediately kicked Held to the ground. Lo Bello had no hesitation. It was the end of the match for the Russian.
With only nine fit men the Russians came out to play the second half with more spirit, and with Khusainov suddenly emerging as a danger.
But it seemed all over when a corner kick following a great Yashin save, finally ended up at the feet of Beckenbauer. The German's shot was fierce, and Yashin was beaten.
In fact, it was only the beginning of Germany's troubles and the feeling that if Portugal can be beaten tonight, England can be world champions by the week-end.
WEST GERMANY: Tilkowski, Lutz, Schnellinger, Weber, Schulz, Haller, Beckenbauer, Overath, Seeler, Held, Emmerich.
USSR: Yashin, Ponemarov, Shesternev, Vorenin, Danilov, Sabo, Khusainov, Chislanke, Banishevskly, Maleleev, Porkujan.
FOOTNOTE: The following evening England defeated Portugal 2-1 in their semi-final at Wembley to set up their memorable 30 July date with West Germany.Reuse content