Owen does a Hurst as hat-trick puts England back on route 66

Germany 1 England 5
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The Independent Football

Michael Owen revived memories of Geoff Hurst and 1966 by scoring a stunning hat-trick as England thrashed Germany 5-1 in the Olympic Stadium in Munich to revitalise their World Cup campaign. The remarkable victory gave them a chance of winning group nine and qualifying automatically for the finals in South Korea and Japan. It was only Germany's second home defeat in World Cup qualifying in 65 years.

Sven Goran Eriksson, England's coach, was naturally overjoyed. "It was a very good evening. I always said and always believed we could beat Germany but I could not believe 5-1."

Nor would anyone when Carsten Jancker swept through England's defence to give Germany the lead after only six minutes, but Owen was in inspired form and was quick to start England's first hat-trick since Alan Shearer's against Luxembourg in 1999. In the 12th minute a free-kick from David Beckham was played back into the penalty area where Nick Barmby nodded down for Owen to equalise. The goal lifted England, and just before half-time Steven Gerrard scored his first international goal to put England ahead, again after a Beckham free-kick. Rio Ferdinand laid the ball back and Gerrard drilled a fierce 25-yard shot past the German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

Owen then took over, with Beckham's prompting. Three minutes after the break he scored his second goal of the game to put England 3-1 ahead, Beckham's cross being headed down by Emile Heskey for Owen to score at Kahn's near post. The goal silenced the German supporters and sparked wild scenes of delight in the ranks of England fans behind David Seaman's goal. Owen completed his first hat-trick for England in the 66th minute when Gerrard supplied an inch-perfect ball into the his path and he lashed the ball past Kahn. Then Heskey rounded off the rout after 74 minutes when he prodded home from a precise pass by Paul Scholes.

There was delight for the Republic of Ireland, too. A goal by Jason McAteer and a remarkable rearguard action with 10 men earned them a 1-0 win over Holland in a qualifier in Dublin, guaranteeing them at least a place in the qualifying play-offs. Victory in their final match at home to Cyprus could convert that into automatic qualification. Holland, by contrast, are virtually out of contention. Ireland played a man short for over half an hour after their full-back Gary Kelly was sent off for a second yellow card, both for fouls on Holland's former Arsenal winger Marc Overmars. Ireland's coach Mick McCarthy withdrew the striker Robbie Keane, replacing him with the midfielder Steve Finnan, who set up the winner. His cross found McAteer unmarked and he beat Fulham's Edwin Van der Sar in the Dutch goal. Scotland's hopes of reaching the finals were dealt a blow when they drew 0-0 with Croatia in Glasgow.

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