Vogts' triumph over adversity

Football: Euro 96 Final; Germany v Czech Republic

At last a "golden goal", Oliver Bierhoff's strike in the fifth minute of extra time bringing Germany yet another triumph. First, confusion as the German squad streaming on to the field in celebration were brought to a halt by the delay caused when a linesman's flag seemed to rule out the winning effort.

Then joy for Berti Vogts and his team, who had struggled manfully through the tournament, overcoming injuries to key players that made their defeat of England last Wednesday a monumental achievement in their history.

Anybody who supposed that Germany's 11th appearance at a final of a major football championship was guaranteed to enhance their reputation as the pre-eminent force in European football ignored the technical expertise, collective and individual, that helped inspire the Czech Republic to a place in the ultimate match of Euro 96. European champions in 1976 when they defeated the Germans on penalties, and World Cup finalists in 1962, the Czechs lived dangerously through this tourna- ment, but their technical proficiency and teamwork was always enough to suggest that they would give the favourites all they could handle.

A personal point of view is that the Germans were not given nearly enough credit for the efficiency and resilience that enabled them to overcome the loss of such notable performers as Jurgen Kohler and Jurgen Klinsmann when defeating England in the semi-final after a penalty shoot-out that had pulled the plug on national expectations and euphoria.

That disappointment ensured that the Czechs would have the backing of most neutrals in the crowded Wembley last night even though the Germans were able to again include Klinsmann, who achieved great popularity when turning out at Tottenham Hotspur two years ago and was voted the 1995 Footballer of the Year in England.

Whatever remedies have been applied to Klinsmann's damaged right calf, an obvious impairment in mobility suggested that the Germans were looking more to his talismanic effect rather than expecting any dramatic contribution. In any case, it was soon apparent that a glowing encounter against England had drained more from the Germans than the Czechs had expended when defeating France at Old Trafford at the same stage in similar circumstances.

Of course, it was ridiculous to suppose that the Czechs would be inferior in their understanding of practical strategy, a point they proved quickly when putting a strain on the discipline and method that had quickly established Germany as a team to beat throughout the championship.

In denying Matthias Sammer the space he cleverly exploits when breaking out in support of attacks, the Czechs reduced the effectiveness of Germany's sorties from midfield, and if they were less threatening generally than England were last week, plenty of anxiety was caused to German defence. A patched-up German team showed signs of weariness, and winger Karel Poborsky was always willing to exploit an instinctive talent for running the ball at defenders and seeking imaginative routes to goal. The Germans were frequently at full stretch.

However, neither goal had been threatened seriously until the Czechs were awarded a penalty in the 59th minute when Sammer was judged to have brought down Poborsky in a race for the German goal-line.

As with so many decisions in this championship, it was dubious and television replays showed the Italian referee, Pierluigi Pairetto, had blundered. Not only did Sammer play the ball, but contact was made outside the penalty area. The possible irony then was that one of the championship's best players would be involved in a moment that cost the team a great victory.

Patrik Berger drove the ball past Andreas Kopke, and here was another opportunity for the Germans to display the fighting spirit that stood them in such stead against England. Bierhoff was not reckoned to be good enough for a place in the starting line-up but a crisis brought him into the game, and almost with the first touch of the ball he brought the Germans level in the 73rd minute.

His winner in extra time, a shot that sneaked just inside the far post and Petr Kouba's fingers, brought Germany their seventh major championship and left England and their supporters wondering what might have been.

At half-time there was a poignant moment when Terry Venables came out to receive the Fair Play Trophy on behalf of his squad. A day earlier he had learned of the sudden death of his close friend, the former Fulham footballer Bobby Keetch. Upon hearing the news, Venables broke down and it was doubtful if he would attend last night's proceedings. He came in tribute to a lost companion.

Final

Czech Republic (0) 1 Germany (0) 2

Berger pen 59 Bierhoff 73, 95

73,611

(at Wembley; aet; golden goal decisive)

Semi-finals

France 0 Czech Republic 0

43,877

(Czech Republic won 6-5 on penalties after extra time; at Old Trafford on Wednesday)

Penalty shoot-out details

France Czech Republic

Zidane scored Kubik scored

Djorkaeff scored Nedved scored

Lizarazu scored Berger scored

Guerin scored Poborsky scored

Blanc scored Rada scored

Pedros saved Kadlec scored

England (1) 1 Germany (1) 1

Shearer 3 Kuntz 16 75,862

(Germany won 6-5 on penalties after extra time; at Wembley on Wednesday)

Penalty shoot-out details

England Germany

Shearer scored Hassler scored

Platt scored Strunz scored

Pearce scored Reuter scored

Gascoigne scored Ziege scored

Sheringham scored Kuntz scored

Southgate saved Moller scored

Leading goalscorers

FIVE GOALS: Shearer (England).

THREE GOALS: Stoichkov (Bulgaria), B Laudrup (Denmark), Klinsmann (Germany), Suker (Croatia).

TWO GOALS: Bierhoff (Germany), Casiraghi (Italy), Sheringham (England), Sammer (Germany).

Discipline

SUSPENDED FROM FINAL: Reuter, Moller (Germany).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Factory Manager - Food

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Environmental Account Manager - Remote Working

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Support / IT Sales / Graduate Sales / Trainee

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has now arisen for a Sale...

Recruitment Genius: Administration Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continued growth an exce...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable