England v Germany: Euro 96 semi-final – as it happened

Rob Smyth on 24 March 2020

There’s not much left to say. It wasn’t an epic match - but it was an epic occasion, and we’ll be talking about that first period of extra-time forever. In the end, just as at Italia 90, it ended in the cruellest possible way.

For the last two and a half weeks, England’s euphoric Euro 96 campaign has been our entire world. And like that, it’s gone.

Updated

Terry Venables runs straight over to Gareth Southgate, whose life has just taken the most horrible turn. Jurgen Klinsmann also limps over to console him - and then Tony Adams drags him over to start a lap of honour before beckoning the rest of the England team to join them. There are no tears, as far as I can tell, but a few of the players are close. A lot of them look in shock.

MOLLER SCORES AND ENGLAND ARE OUT! Germany 6-5 England

It’s over. Moller smashes his penalty down the middle and then mimicks Gascoigne’s peacock celebration. England are out in the most heartbreaking circumstances, again.

Germany celebrate.
Germany celebrate. Photograph: Ted Blackbrow/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

KOPKE SAVES FROM SOUTHGATE! Germany 5-5 England It was a tame penalty, and Kopke pushed it away as he dived to his right. Now Germany are one kick away from putting England out of Euro 96.

Gareth Southgate has his penalty saved.
Gareth Southgate has his penalty saved. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Gareth Southgate dejected after failing to score in the penalty shoot out.
Gareth Southgate dejected after failing to score in the penalty shoot out. Photograph: PA

Updated

It’s Gareth Southgate in fact...

Updated

KUNTZ SCORES! Germany 5-5 England An unbelievable penalty from Kuntz, who clips it high into the net. Now it’s sudden death. Who’s next for England? It can’t be Ince, surely. You’d have to think it’ll be McManaman or Anderton.

SHERINGHAM SCORES! Germany 4-5 England Sheringham curls it into the top corner as well! If Stefan Kuntz doesn’t score, Germany are out.

ZIEGE SCORES! Germany 4-4 England Yet another great penalty. Seaman went the right way but it was right in the corner. The standard is stratospheric.

GASCOIGNE SCORES! Germany 3-4 England A majestic penalty from Gascoigne, steered into the top corner. He celebrates with a peacock pose and tries to whip the crowd up even more.

England’s Paul Gascoigne urges his team mates on after scoring his penalty kick.
England’s Paul Gascoigne urges his team mates on after scoring his penalty kick. Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

REUTER SCORES! Germany 3-3 England Seaman got hands on that! He’s furious with himself for not saving it.

PEARCE SCORES! Germany 2-3 England Pearce completes the exorcism of 1990, sending Kopke the wrong way. This time he celebrates with a modest thumbs up rather than the full Psycho of Saturday.

STUART PEARCE AFTER SCORING ENGLAND’S 3RD PENALTY.
STUART PEARCE AFTER SCORING ENGLAND’S 3RD PENALTY. Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

And now it’s Stuart Pearce...

STRUNZ SCORES! Germany 2-2 England Strunz, who came on right at the end of extra-time, places a brilliant penalty into the top-left corner.

PLATT SCORES! Germany 1-2 England I was worried about Platt but he has tucked his penalty away, just as he did in Turin six years ago. Kopke went the right way, diving to his left, but the ball had too much height for him to reach. Good penalty.

HASSLER SCORES! Germany 1-1 England A terrific penalty, dragged right into the bottom corner. Seaman went the right way but had no chance.

SHEARER SCORES! Germany 0-1 England

Nerveless stuff from Shearer, who curls it high to the right. Paul Ince, by the way, can’t watch. He is sitting down in the centre circle, looking away from goal. He looks like he’s about to vomit.

England will go first, as they did on Saturday.

“Hi Rob,” says Ruth Purdue. “Hope you’re well. What is England’s record with penalty shoot-outs?”

They’ve won one and lost one. Germany/West Germany have won three and lost one. Of course, those records include the Italia 90 semi-final, when Pearce and Chris Waddle missed and England were beaten.

Some England players look more relaxed than others. Shearer looks fine, Gascoigne is chatting away with Venables. It looks like he’s demonstrating what happened with that agonising near miss in the first period of extra time. Jamie Redknapp, most of the back-up players in fact, look relieved that they won’t be facing the firing squad.

England players prepare for penalties.
England players prepare for penalties. Photograph: Ted Blackbrow/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

We know four of the England penalty takers: Shearer, Platt, Pearce and Gascoigne, in that order, all scored against Spain. Robbie Fowler was down for the other one on Saturday. I suppose the man he replaced, Teddy Sheringham, will take the fifth tonight.

Full time in extra time: Germany 1-1 England

For the second time in five days, England’s hopes and dreams depend on a penalty shoot-out. It’s a great way to win a game, let’s just say that.

120 min Dieter Eilts, who has had an amazing game defensively, makes one last intervention. A bouncing ball from the right kicked up towards Platt, who improvised a neat, speculative header over the defence. Anderton was just about to reach it in the area when Eilts came across to thigh the ball away and run it to safety. The whistle had gone for offside against Anderton, but nobody knew that at the time.

119 min It’s a poor corner, cleared at the near post.

119 min England get a very generous corner on the right. Platt was already apologising to his team-mates for cocking things up when the decision went in England’s favour. Matthias Sammer asks the referee what the feck is going on. We’ll never hear the end of it if England score from this. Before the corner is taken, Thomas Strunz replaces the injured Freund.

118 min Both teams are still trying to win this. Kuntz’s reverse pass from the right just runs away from the unmarked Bode in the area.

116 min Another German injury! It’s Freund who is struggling now, after a challenge from Anderton. He’s stretchered off, so Germany will be down to 10 men until they can sort a replacement.

Updated

115 min: CHANCE FOR McMANAMAN! Sammer, deep inside the England half, gave the ball away for one of the few times tonight and England charged forward on the counter-attack. Gascoigne, McManaman and Shearer combined before Shearer guided a through pass down the inside-right channel.

McManaman got to it first on the edge of the area, just ahead of Eilts, but his first touch took him slightly away from goal. The angle was tight and he could only hit a weary low shot that was easily held by the tumbling Kopke. The break was so fast that McManaman had no support, so he had to go for goal.

114 min: INCE HEADS OFF THE LINE! I think Seaman had it covered, but Ince didn’t take any chances. Moller’s deep corner from the left was pulled down on the thigh by the substitute Bode, who hooked it back towards goal on the turn. Ince, standing in front of Seaman in the six-yard box, used his loaf to get the ball clear.

113 min Compared to the first half, the second period of extra-time has been an oasis of calm. I wouldn’t say either side has settled for penalties, but they look like they have accepted it’s the likeliest scenario.

110 min Another Germany substitution: the limping Thomas Helmer is replaced by the utility player Marco Bode. Germany have had such bad luck with injuries throughout this tournament, and now they have two players - Reuter and Moller - suspended from the final should they get there.

107 min Southgate plays a nervous, underhit pass across the face of the England area. For a split-second it looks like Kuntz is going to get there first and move through on goal - but then Adams throws himself at the ball to boot it clear.

107 min: ZIEGE MISSES AN EXCELLENT CHANCE! Dear lord, make it stop. This is too much to bear. Ziege, this strutting left-back from Bayern, zips infield and finds Moller in the D. He controls the ball and plays a return pass to Ziege, who gets on the inside of Southgate but pokes the ball wide of the far post from 10 yards. That was another great chance.

106 min England begin the second period of extra time. This is it: 15 minutes to score a Golden Goal or it will be penalties, just as it was at Italia 90.

Still no sign of any England substitutions. I’d be really tempted to introduce the youthful dynamism of Robbie Fowler or maybe Steve Stone. It would give the crowd a lift as well.

Half time in extra time: Germany 1-1 England That was one of the great periods of extra time.

105 min Shearer runs Babbel down the right – it’s been a brilliant contest between those two - and crosses low. Sammer’s clearance comes to Anderton, who drags a volley well wide from 25 yards.

104 min Another fine interception from Adams, who has been immense. England race down the other end, where McManaman’s curling cross is again just in front of the stretching Gascoigne in the six-yard box. That was nowhere near as close as the earlier chance. Gascoigne’s fitness was criticised earlier in the tournament but he looks England’s liveliest player at the moment.

Updated

102 min A couple of uneventful minutes. It’s as if both teams are having an unspoken timeout after that astonishing start to extra-time.

101 min “Hi Rob,” says George Wright. “I’m only 12 and yet to get any sense of perspective, which I’m sure will come any day now. It’s so tense that I’ve already cried once and I spent the break before extra-time playing an aggressive game of wall-ie in my friend’s back yard to let off some steam.”

100 min I’ve never seen anything like these last few minutes, never in all ma puff. Replays show what happened with Gascoigne’s chance. He was in front of Sammer and Freund – but then he half stopped, because he thought Kopke was going to get a touch on the ball. Had he kept going he would have run the bal into the net, and he’d probably still be celebrating in the dentist’s chair come the new millennium.

99 min: HOW DID GASCOIGNE NOT SCORE THERE?! Gascoigne is a stud’s length away from winning the match! He started the move by winning the ball off Hassler on the England left. Anderton then gave it to Sheringham, who drove a crossfield pass towards Shearer on the right of the area. He pulled away from Babbel, watched the ball onto his right foot and belted a volley back across goal. It bobbled past the diving Kopke in the six-yard box, leaving Gascoigne in front of an open goal – but somehow he missed the ball as he lunged with his left foot. I have no idea what happened. It was an open goal, and he seemed certain to score. Gascoigne ended up in the net, face down. If only the ball was with him. Nobody scripts this stuff, nobody.

Paul Gascoigne reacts after failing to convert a cross.
Paul Gascoigne reacts after failing to convert a cross. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Shutterstock

Updated

97 min Germany burst forward again. Hassler finds Moller, whose cross is brilliantly headed away by … McManaman. This is incredible. A chess match has suddenly morphed into basketball.

97 min Having seen a replay, I think that probably was a foul by Kuntz, who dragged Southgate out of the way as the corner came in. It was still a brave decision from Sandor Puhl, because I don’t think anyone spotted it at the time. Kuntz’s lack of complaint probably tells a story.

97 min: KUNTZ HAS A GOAL DISALLOWED! I thought England were out of Euro 96. Moller’s inswinging corner from the left was headed into the top corner by Kuntz, despite Gascoigne attempting to punch it clear on the line. Time stood still … until everyone realised the referee had blown for a foul by Kuntz on Southgate. That looks really soft to me - I don’t think Luntz did anything wrong. “The country’s pulse rate,” says Barry Davies, “must be beyond natural science.”

96 min: GOOD SAVE BY SEAMAN! This is heart-stopping stuff. Moller gets a lucky ricochet off Ince in his own half and surges into a very big gap. It’s a three-on-three break, with the central player Adams trying to hold things up for as long as possible. Eventually Moller gets to within 25 yards of goal and hammers a rising drive that Seaman tips acrobatically over the bar.

95 min And now Anderton’s snapshot is blocked by Babbel. So much for the Golden Goal promoting caution. Both teams are swinging haymakers all over the place.

94 min Now Germany threaten to win it! Eilts, on the left wing, stabs a pass inside to the marauding Helmer. He looks up and absolutely leathers a cross that flashes across the six-yard box, just in front of Kuntz.

93 min: ANDERTON HITS THE POST!!!! England were this close to winning the match after just 80 seconds of extra time. Platt played an excellent pass infield to find McManaman in space on the right of the area. His pull-back was missed by the diving Kopke and reached the unmarked Anderton, who screwed it off the near post and back into the arms of Kopke! That is unbelievable.

The ball from McManaman was slightly behind Anderton, which is why he hit it onto the post rather than into the net. But had he put it in front of Anderton, Kopke would have got to it. Sammer punches the air in the direction of the linesman – he was busy appealing for offside against McManaman, which is why Anderton had so much space in the middle.

92 min During the break before extra-time, the BBC panel suggested bringing on Les Ferdinand for Sheringham, who hasn’t had a great night. I’d go for Robbie Fowler, who would love an opportunity for glory like this.

91 min Germany begin the first period of extra-time. Still no substitutions from Terry Venables.

The players of both sides take a quick break on the field. Paul Ince and David Platt are having a pretty lively exchange of views; not sure what that’s about, but Ian Walker seems to find it amusing enough.

Players getting ready for extra time.
Players getting ready for extra time. Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

Full time: Germany 1-1 England

Extra time, the Golden Goal, maybe penalties. It was always going to come to this, wasn’t it.

90+1 min Platt’s snapshot from 20 yards is deflected behind for a corner. I’d like to see the line of the ball before it hit the German defender, because it looked like he caught it sweetly.

90 min Ince gives a nation of 48 million people a collective coronary by losing the ball to Moller on the halfway line. It’s okay, it’s okay: Germany break two on three but Kuntz overhits his return pass to Moller.

89 min Oh lord, they’re singing Rule Britannia.

88 min “On the odd occasion you see Gazza in full flight don’t you wonder what might have been?” says Niall Mullen. “As the most talented English player I’ve ever seen (admittedly I am only 19) I can’t help but feel that, apart from a purple patch at Lazio, his has been a tale of unfulfilled potential.”

He might fulfil it in the next five days. I know what you mean, though: although there have been regular moments of genius, he’s never been quite the same player since that cruciate injury in 1991.

87 min The pace is still frantic – the second half has flown by – but both teams look like they are starting to get their heads round the idea of extra-time.

Updated

85 min “If it does go to penalties,” says Simon McMahon. “I hope for England’s sake Uri Geller hasn’t used up all his mind- and ball-bending powers on Gary McAllister.”

He’s still claiming that, is he? Mind you, it was utterly weird.

84 min There are audible groans from the England fans as Sheringham, who has struggled tonight, plays the ball all the way back to Pearce. That’s the first bit of dissent all night, I think.

82 min Ince, who is really on one now, takes the ball off Gascoigne and finds his Sheringham on the left. He cuts infield and plays a give-and-go with Gascoigne before being dispossessed in the area by Eilts “yet again”, as Barry Davies puts it. Eilts’ engine and positional awareness are quite something.

81 min It’s been a good second half, much better than the first. Yet it’s still been a game of few clear chances. Kopke has had only one fairly difficult save to make, Seaman none.

79 min: MOLLER IS OUT OF THE FINAL! At this rate, Germany will need to play a back-up goalkeeper outfield if they get to the final. I feel a bit sorry for Moller on this occasion. He was caught by the studs of Ince a split-second after he hit a chest/volley over the bar from 25 yards, and was on the floor holding his foot when Pearce tried to drag him up by the arm. Moller lashed out with a closed fist in Pearce’s general direction, and although he didn’t really make contact, Sandor Puhl decided to book him.

Sammer and Pearce then had a full and frank exchange of wagged fingers. I’m pretty sure Pearce’s gesture was well-intentioned, but those block tackles can bloody hurt so you can understand why Moller didn’t appreciate it.

77 min The first substitution: Thomas Hassler, one of the survivors of 1990, replaces Mehmet Scholl.

76 min There’s an exquisite tension around Wembley. The Golden Goal doesn’t come into play until extra-time, but we’re getting to the stage where one false move could be fatal for either side.

Updated

75 min “Watching this while on a ‘team-building week away with colleagues,” says Bernard. “Mostly down caves by day, but finished early today but ate dinner quickly to nab the best seats in front of the TV in the hotel, which is ironically very German for an Englishman, an Irishman and an Italian In good spirits and loving the English fan’s humour. Surprised that no one has mentioned the large banner displayed by a group of women in the crowd, proclaiming ‘English girls prefer Seaman to Flowers’! The BBC cut away from it as soon as it was legible.”

I blame the Girlie Show. And yes, I do watch it religiously.

73 min Gascoigne is booked – but don’t worry, he’s not on a yellow card this time. It was an naive lunge at Kuntz on the left-wing, and the referee had no real choice.

72 min England try the Spurs corner again; this time Sheringham’s shot is blocked by the sliding Moller. For a split-second it looked like Sheringham had the run on him.

72 min “Hello Rob!” says Phil West. “I’m a 35-year-old on holiday in Blighty from Istanbul with his wife and young child - and we’re staying with a friend in Sunderland. All of the blokes, and a couple of the ladies, are glued to the box. We remember 1970 and 1990 and after the Holland game we were pretty hopeful, but the longer this game goes on we know it’s going to penalties isn’t it? We’ve started a wager on who’s going to miss the final penalty. I’ve got Gascoigne based on the logic that he’s been so good all tournament. What do you think?”

Not sure why but I’ve never trusted Platt on penalties. If it does go to penalties, and he’s still on the pitch, I’d be worried about him. The tournament is due a Golden Goal, though - we haven’t had one in three games so far.

71 min Gascoigne is flying now. He harasses Scholl into an error just inside the German half and surges into space. Sammer makes a good tackle from behind, but Gascoigne keeps going as the ball runs to Anderton. He plays a through pass towards Gascoigne, and Helmer stretches desperately to divert the ball behind for a corner.

Gascoigne was this close to being through on Kopke. He smiles broadly anyway, looking for Eilts or anyone else to make eye contact and share his sheer enjoyment of association football. There’s a break in play while Helmer receives treatment; he might have pulled something in stretching to make that clearance.

69 min Gascoigne, in the centre circle, drives a pass towards Shearer on the edge of the box. The last man Babbel gets there first, cocks up his attempted clearance but recovers calmly to make a vital tackle. Shearer would have been through on goal.

68 min This is another good spell for England, with Germany struggling to get out of their own half.

67 min The camera cuts to Pele in the crowd. His face is obscured by a bloke in front, who yawns for the entire duration of his unexpected television appearance.

66 min Shearer cuts inside Babbel on the left and curls a dangerous cross that is brilliantly headed away by the flying Eilts, appearing in between Platt and Sheringham. England, as Barry Davies observes on the BBC, are asking more of the questions at the moment.

64 min Gascoigne uses his strength and skill to wriggle away from Moller and Fruend on the edge of the area. Then he stabs the ball one side of Ziege, runs round the other and strains every sinew to stand up a fine cross. Helmer heads it clear. After an iffy start, Gascoigne has played really well in the second half. The same could be said of the whole team.

62 min Sammer, boxed in by the left edge of the German area, drives a long pass right across the penalty box to Scholl on the other side of the field. His confidence and calmness are unreal.

60 min McManaman has moved to the right, swapping wings with Anderton. England have slowed down a little after that flying start to the second half.

59 min: HELMER MISSES AN EXCELLENT CHANCE! Bloody hell, England dodged a bullet there. Germany kept the ball for 30 seconds or so before opening England up with a quick, zig-zag passing move: Ziege infield to Scholl, who moved it back outside to Eilts on the left wing. A smart first touch took him away from Platt, who committed himself, and with his second he pulled the ball back into a dangerous area. Kuntz ignored the ball at the near post so that it could run on to Helmer, who swept a first-time shot over the bar from 12 yards. That was a really good move. Helmer is the left-sided centre-back but he has been getting forward all night in open play.

Updated

55 min Sheringham is dropping deeper and deeper in an attempt to get in the game. Now he appears in the right-back position, flicking a pass into Ince on the halfway line. Ziege slips, which allows Ince to move within 25 yards of goal before cracking a shot over the bar. Ince is starting to dominate the midfield.

53 min Now it’s Germany’s turn. Moller breaks dangerously into space from the halfway line, but Adams holds him up long enough for Ince to make a good recovery tackle. This is a cracking game now.

52 min Germany are being pinned back for the first time in the match. McManaman goes on a nice run down the left, his best of the match so far, before crossing too close to Kopke.

50 min England have been a lot better on the ball since half-time – quicker, more precise and with much greater purpose. Their aggression without the ball has been much more controlled as well, as Ince demonstrates by appearing from nowhere to pick Scholl’s pocket and start another counter-attack.

48 min A fine sliding tackle by Sammer on McManaman sparks a German break. An even better sliding tackle at the other end of the pitch, from Adams on Moller, ends it. Adams points theatrically at the ball as it goes out for a throw-in. He’s having a brilliant game.

47 min “I think people are getting swept up in the emotion of this too much, of football coming home,” says Neil Connolly. “England were poor in two group games, lucky against Spain and they haven’t been great tonight. They’re not a patch on the teams from ‘90 or ‘86.”

Those teams had a few iffy performances as well, don’t forget – Portugal, Morocco, Ireland, Cameroon.

46 min: REUTER IS OUT OF THE FINAL! He’s been booked for pulling back McManaman, who was breaking down the left. It was his second yellow card of the tournament, and a simple decision for the referee Sandor Puhl.

46 min The players are back on, and England begin the second half.

A couple of excellent points from the BBC1 panel. Ruud Gullit says England scored too early, while jimmy Hill says they’ve been too hyper.

Half time: Germany 1-1 England There’s nothing it in terms of goals or clear chances – one apiece on both counts – but Germany have been much the more relaxed, confident side. It really is just another game to these people. They’re animals.

England Supporters at half time.
England Supporters at half time. Photograph: Andy Hooper/ANL/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

45 min Saying which: Scholl slithers through the midfield, away from Platt and Ince before hitting a shot that is blocked on the edge of the area by Adams.

44 min Out of nothing, England have upped the tempo and are ending the half really strongly. Ince is starting to win more loose balls in midfield.

43 min: JUST WIDE FROM SHEARER! England almost go back in front with an immense header from Shearer. Platt combines well on the right with Anderton, who controls the ball deftly on the run and floats a cross back towards the penalty spot. Shearer, arriving late in the box, leaps imperiously to thump a header that swerves just wide of the far post. Kopke was scrambling across his line, though I’m not certain he’d have got there.

As the ball flew wide, Shearer shouted “BAAAA-STARD!”, a bit like Francis Begbie as he set about a hotel room in his white socks at the end of Trainspotting. For extra clarification, Shearer then screamed “Fuck off!” to everyone and no one. He put the same feeling into the header.

42 min Now Shearer is penalised for elbowing Babbel.

41 min Seaman makes a routine catch from Ziege’s looping header.

40 min Reuter is flattened again, this time by an aerial challenge from Pearce. That was overzealous at best, and a number of German players run over to ask the referee what the flip is going on. As in almost every game at this tournament, England really need the half-time whistle. They’re in danger of losing the head.

39 min Gascoigne tries to get England going with a hyper-aggressive tackle that sends Reuter up in the air. A bit like Gary Charles in 1991, except this time he took the ball cleanly. But all England have at the moment is physical aggression. They can’t get their passing game going at all. If Jamie Redknapp was fit he would surely come on for David Platt at half-time.

38 min Shearer fouls Kopke, then tells him to get up. As with Freund, Kopke did make the most of it, but it was a foul. England are getting a bit frustrated with the German players - and, I suspect, with themselves.

37 min “If there was technology to correct offside decisions,” says Niall Mullen, “then England might already be out after Julio Salinas’ goal was disallowed on Saturday.”

Good point. That was a much worse decision.

36 min Sammer swaggers away from Gascoigne in the centre circle to start another Germany move. Eventually Kuntz wafts high over the bar from 25 yards. But that was another lovely piece of play from Sammer, who is running the game.

35 min “Have you mentioned Mcmanaman yet?” says David Gilbert. “Is he even playing?”

He hasn’t done much, although the same could be said of all England’s attacking players apart from Shearer and to a lesser extent Anderton.

34 min Sheringham gingerly feels his teeth after wearing the arm of Helmer in his face. It wasn’t deliberate. For a second it looked like Sheringham was going to do some impromptu dentristry, but he seems to be fine.

33 min Scholl drags a shot well wide from 20 yards after a good run through the midfield. Gascoigne has words with him afterwards, though I’ve no idea why. Scholl walks away like he hasn’t heard him. England’s sporadic attempts to bully Germany have generally been ignored.

33 min Ince fouls Freund, who makes the most of it with an elaborate fall. It was a foul, though, and Ince was a bit churlish to ignore Freund’s offer of a handshake.

31 min: OFF THE LINE BY REUTER! Having scored from the old Arsenal near-post corner, England almost do so again from the Spurs near-post corner. This time the same personnel were involved. Anderton curled it towards the edge of the area, where Sheringham twisted his body to crack a shot towards goal. Reuter, who was just starting to come off his position at the near post, booted it clear. I don’t think Kopke would have saved that. Sheringham did really well to get that on the target as the ball was slightly behind him.

30 min Southgate, on the right, lofts an excellent pass into the area for Anderton. His cross is put behind for a corner by Eilts, who has already made a number of important interceptions.

27 min Oof. Adams, the last man, gives the ball straight to Moller on the halfway line - but he redeems his error with a fine lunging tackle. Had he not made that, Moller would probably have been through. I don’t think Pearce or Southgate would have been able to get round. England’s tactics are fascinating, because Adams is the only real centre-half. Although they are tucking in at times, Pearce and Southgate are playing much wider than I expected.

25 min That’s a bit better from England. Platt plays a crisp return pass to Anderton, who dumps a cross into the area from the right. Shearer, running from centre to left, heads over on the stretch from 12 yards. It was an extremely difficult chance, even for a demented goalhungry monster like Shearer.

24 min “Do you think it might be worth thinking about looking into some form of technology for those offside decisions?” says Chris Drew.

I can’t see that ever happening to be honest. And actually, nobody in the England team complained about the goal; it was a really tight decision.

23 min The crowd try to rouse the team with a chorus of Football’s Coming Home. Although they have been solid defensively (apart from Pearce’s loss of concentration for the goal), England look so flustered in possession. Can we not knock it?

22 min Sammer, who is nominally a sweeper, is dictating the game. The problem for England is that he appears in so many different positions – behind the midfield one minute, in front of them the next, then on the right wing. He’s single-handedly reviving the sweeper role.

21 min I thought the goal might spark England’s attack into life. It hasn’t yet; Germany are comfortably the better side at the moment. It’s far too early to panic, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.

18 min England have been scruffy in possession so far, and the goal ultimately came from Platt, under no pressure, overrunning the ball near the halfway line.

17 min Hang on, replays show that Helmer was offside when he made the goal! It was a tough one for the linesman, because Helmer was moving away from goal at the time, but he was definitely beyond the defence when Moller played that return pass to him. Pearce was leading the appeals for offside, in fact, which might be why he defended a little dopily when the cross came in.

GOAL! Germany 1-1 England (Kuntz 16)

No, it can’t be this straightforward: Germany have equalised with their first chance! It was a very well-worked goal. Reuter, just past the halfway line, moseyed infield from the right and played a square pass to Helmer. He surged into the space, clipped a pass infield to Moller on the edge of the D and kept running. Moller held off Adams and then Gascoigne before playing a nice reverse pass to Helmer – that’s the centre-back, by the way - on the left side of the area. He turned and hit a speculative low cross that was slid into the net from close range by Kuntz. He came on the blindside of Pearce, who was running in the wrong direction when Kuntz appeared from nowhere to score. Seaman had no chance.

Stefan Kuntz scores Germany’s equaliser.
Stefan Kuntz scores Germany’s equaliser. Photograph: Colorsport/REX/Shutterstock

Updated

14 min “Did 2Pac have this match in mind when he penned ‘How Do U Want It’?” cheers Ian Copestake. “Like this, 2 mate, like this!”

13 min It’s an odd thing to say about a team that’s 1-0 up, but England haven’t really settled. They’ve been passive since going ahead. That’s human nature, I suppose, but it means they haven’t yet got their passing game going.

11 min Scholl is late on Pearce, who turns round with gritted-teeth intent before deciding better of it.

10 min That’s a bit more penetrative from Germany. A classy one-touch move, from right to left, ends with Southgate clearing Ziege’s cross.

9 min Germany have dominated possession since the goal, with Sammer involved in everything, but so far all their work has been done in deeper positions.

8 min A thumping man-and-ball challenge from Gascoigne on Reuter. There’s a whiff of 1991 about his frantic start, although his tackles have been more controlled. He hasn’t yet maimed anyone, or himself.

6 min Gazza – come on, we’re all friends here – beats Helmer and Sammer on the right edge of the area with some lovely footwork, but his cross to Platt is overhit.

5 min Gascoigne takes a blundering shortcut through the back of Sammer, an overzealous rather than malicious tackle. Sammer accepts the apology.

4 min “Hi Rob,” says Luke Richardson. “I am 19, high on 4-1 and I think we’ll remember these barmy nights for a long time. It seems odd to think of an epic occasion in such a compact tournament. It already seems like it’s been on longer than it has and I think that sense of it being the summer of Euro 96 rather than a few short weeks will linger. They couldn’t. Could they?”

Of course they bloody could! Whether they will…

4 min It can’t be this straightforward. Can it?

GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! England 1-0 Germany (Shearer 3)

England take the lead from the corner! It was the simplest goal, the old Arsenal near-post routine, but with Tony Adams playing the role of Steve Bould. Gascoigne’s flighted corner skimmed off his head at the near post, and the unmarked Shearer – the unmarked Shearer! - headed it through the legs of Kopke. It’s his fifth goal of the tournament. There was nothing Kopke could do about that – but he was still at fault for the goal, as it was his typically ostentatious punch that led to the corner. Who cares: England are ahead!

Alan Shearer celebrates Englands goal.
Alan Shearer celebrates Englands goal. Photograph: Shutterstock

Updated

2 min: Kopke saves from Ince! Pearce’s deep cross from the left is headed out by Ziege and bounces up towards Ince, 35 yards from goal. He chests the ball up in the air, runs onto it and pings a dipping volley that is punched over the bar by the flying Kopke. It was a fairly straightforward save – most keepers would have caught it – but a cracking effort nonetheless. And it’s got the crowd going again, which is just what England wanted.

1 min Germany kick off, from left to right as we watch on the office TV. Whatever happens in the next couple of hours will live with us until we’re old and doddery.

“As regards schoolboy humour evinced from a German surname,” says Ian Copestake, “the English should take a hard look at their goalkeeper before casting nasturtiums.”

“Let’s hope there is now respect for the German anthem,” says Barry Davies, who hasn’t even finished his sentence when the boos start. It’s not as bad as I feared - a few whistles rather than a wall of wewonthewar noise - but it’s still a bit depressing. “Those who felt it necessary to whistle,” says Davies, “we can leave to their own ignorance.”

Updated

The players stroll onto the field, ready for the anthems. England’s is to be sung by 80s crooner Paul Young... whose microphone isn’t working. Not that it matters: most of the studio are belting it out, Tony Adams with particular gusto.

England have four players on a yellow card: Adams, Southgate, Shearer and Sheringham. Germany have five: Moller, Sammer, Reuter, Ziege, Kuntz.

“Before your anglophone readers get too carried away with Kuntz,” says Peter Oh. “The pronunciation of the German forward’s name is actually more like that of American thriller novelist Dean Koontz than the ubiquitous British insult. Sorry to ruin it for everyone. By the way, Koontz launched a new book last year (1995) called Intensity. No, it is not about Stuart Pearce trying to get in his German opponents’ heads.”

Des Lynam handed over to Barry Davies for the build-up about 10 minutes. Davies has said almost nothing. He’s just letting the atmosphere sing for itself: first Three Lions, then You’ll Never Walk Alone and now, erm, We Will Rock You. There really is an exultant atmosphere at Wembley.

England Fans with a Paul Gascoigne Banner.
England Fans with a Paul Gascoigne Banner. Photograph: Action Images

Updated

The Beeb have a heavyweight punditry panel. Jimmy Hill, who has his England bowtie on, Ruud Gullit and Alan Hansen. “I think it’s 50/50,” says Hill, and on balance I’d agree. Two minutes ago I was 100 per cent sure England would lose. Now I’m 100 per cent sure they’ll win. It’s coming home! Possibly.

Updated

The BBC coverage, pushed back because of extra time in the Czech Republic, is underway. “Hello again, glad you’ve tuned in,” says Des. “You’ve obviously heard there’s a football match on tonight.”

“Hi Rob,” says Niall Mullen. “Small point but I wonder if England will miss Redknapp. He looked really calm & composed (not to mention preternaturally handsome) when he came on against Scotland. I’m not sure if England have anyone else with that sort of control in midfield. Anyway what a glorious evening for football and come on Germany (unless Fowler gets a run).”

Yeah, had he been fit I think he’d have started ahead of Platt tonight, and against Spain as well. He’s another one, like Phil Neville, whose time will come.

Updated

Germany are technically the home side, so England will be playing in their change strip tonight: it’s indigo blue, according to Umbro, but it looks grey to everyone else. I’m not even going to attempt to describe David Seaman’s goalkeeping top.

Updated

Team news

First things first: it wasn’t a bluff, there’s no Jurgen Klinsmann for Germany. That’s an almighty boost to England.

Right, Terry Venables makes one change from the win over Spain. Paul Ince, who was missed so badly on Saturday, returns from suspension to replace the newly suspended Gary Neville. The only slight surprise is the inclusion of David Platt ahead of Phil Neville, who most expected to be chosen to replace his brother.

That means England will play with three rather than four at the back. Venables has obviously decided that this game is too big for a 19-year-old, even one as precocious as Neville. But his time will come; on the evidence of the last six months, he’s going to be a superstar.

The word from Wembley is that Klinsmann has bugger all chance of coming off the bench, even though he will sit among the German substitutes. His replacement is the 33-year-old Stefan Kuntz, who plays for Besiktas in Turkey – not, as some of you have suggested, for Nominative Determinism FC.

Kuntz will play up front of his own. Fredi Bobic, the other striker who started on Sunday, is also injured. The midfielder Steffen Freund comes in for him. Germany have been ravaged by injuries, and two of their seven available substitutes are reserve goalkeepers.

Germany (3-4-2-1) Kopke; Babbel, Sammer, Helmer; Reuter, Freund, Eilts, Ziege; Scholl, Moller; Kuntz.
Substitutes: Bode, Hassler, Kahn, Schneider, Strunz, Bierhoff, Reck.

England (3-1-4-2) Seaman; Southgate, Adams, Pearce; Ince; Anderton, Platt, Gascoigne, McManaman; Shearer, Sheringham.
Substitutes: Flowers, Barmby, Campbell, Ferdinand, P Neville, Stone, Fowler, Walker.

Updated

The Czech Republic are in the Euro 96 final! Their fairytale will continue at Wembley on Sunday! They’ve just beaten France 6-5 on penalties at Old Trafford after a forgettable 0-0 draw. Miroslav Kadlec roofed the winning penalty after Reynald Pedros’s tame penalty was saved. Poor bloke. The Czech Republic are one game away from an astonishing success. But you can’t escape the fact that England would be happy to play them in the final.

Preamble

It was always going to come to this. Come on, did you really think football would be allowed to come home without first getting past the Germans? They’re the Keyser Soze of world football: nine of the last 12 major tournaments involving European teams have been won by the Germans or the team that put them out. And it’ll probably be 10 out of 13 come Sunday evening.

Whoever wins at Wembley will go into the final as decent favourites against either France or the Czech Republic. That game is heading for a penalty shoot-out: it’s 0-0 at Old Trafford with a few minutes of extra-time remaining. I was going to say it’s been a stinker, but that would be overly generous.

As in 1990, when a bereft Argentina waited in the final for the winners of England and West Germany, this feels like more than a semi-final. England and Germany have been the two best teams in the tournament, even allowing for England’s occasionally obscene good fortune against Spain on Saturday. That win added to an already overwhelming sense of destiny – and, if we’re being honest, slightly dangerous giddiness - up and down the country.

There are two ways of looking at this Germany side. The first is that they are Germany, and Euro 96 was fun while it lasted. The second is that, as German sides go, they aren’t that scary. Their captain Jurgen Klinsmann is a big doubt after limping off with a calf injury against Croatia – we’ll have team news shortly – and, for all the brilliance of Andreas Moller and especially the sweeper Matthias Sammer, they aren’t a patch on the awesome power team that won Italia 90.

You could have a good pub braw- sorry, debate about whether England’s class of 96 are better than the boys of 1990. This team has one undeniable edge: home advantage. The world has changed a lot since 1966, and upper lips are nowhere near as stiff as they once were. The atmosphere at Wembley tonight will be like nothing we’ve heard before.

The euphoria of the last 10 days is such that nobody seems to have considered the possibility England might not win tonight. Nobody is ready for the party to end. Nobody wants to stop fakkin shoutin’ lager, lager, lager.

This country is certainly going to have an almighty hangover tomorrow. But let’s be clear about this: there are hangovers, and hangovers. What kind is this to be?

Kick off is at 7.30pm on 26 June 1996 (and 24 March 2020).

Updated

Latest football headlines

Latest Football News