On 1 September 2001 Germany met England during the qualifying stages of the 2002 World Cup, at the Olympiastadion in Munich. England won the game 5–1, abetted by a hat-trick from England striker Michael Owen.
The two teams had met most recently in 2000, in what was the final match at the old Wembley stadium. The match ended with a 1–0 victory for Germany, with Dietmar Hamann scoring. The last time that England had beaten Germany had been during the Euro 2000 competition in June 2000, with a 1–0 win at the Stade du Pays de Charleroi in Belgium. Alan Shearer had scored the winning goal in what was the twilight of his international career. With the exception of that match England had not beaten Germany in competitive football since the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final.
The two sides have met on a number of important occasions in their footballing histories.
They had played in the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, in which England had beaten West Germany 4–2 after extra time. Revenge came just four years later, in the quarter-final of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico when the English side forfeited a comfortable 2–0 lead, losing 2–3 after extra time. West Germany then defeated England in the semi-final of the 1990 competition, this time on penalties. In Euro 1996, Germany again defeated England in a semi-final on penalties. Germany won 1–0 in October 2000 in the last ever match at England's home stadium of Wembley, before it was closed for redevelopment, causing England manager Kevin Keegan to resign from the post.
In the qualifying tournament prior to the game, Germany were clear group leaders. With only the group winners advancing directly to the 2002 World Cup, the pre-game qualifying group table was:
With three points for a win and a total of eight games played, a German victory would have confirmed their qualification and seen England competing with Greece and Finland for a place in the qualification playoffs. A draw would have resulted in Germany requiring just another draw from their final game, and England requiring two victories, a German loss and an improvement in their goal difference. Germany had lost just one of their previous sixty qualification games; and that had been in qualification for the 1986 World Cup. They had also been unbeaten at the Munich Olympic stadium since 1973. Indeed, The German Football Association were confident enough that they would qualify to arrange friendlies on the dates of the play offs.
England named four strikers in their squad, with Robbie Fowler and Andy Cole having started the recent friendly with The Netherlands. However, Eriksson recalled the in-form Michael Owen and strike partner Emile Heskey in an attacking line-up for the match in Munich.
The match was an evening game, and began nervously, with both teams attempting to maintain possession. However, after just six minutes, Germany scored a goal. Oliver Neuville headed down a lofted pass into England's penalty area, and Carsten Jancker was able to tap the ball past English goalkeeper David Seaman.
The lead did not last long, and after Michael Owen was fouled outside the German penalty area in the 12th minute, England were given a free kick. England captain David Beckham took the kick, which neither the attacking nor defending players managed to touch. However, Gary Neville was able to head the ball back into the penalty area, where Nick Barmby headed down to Owen, who volleyed the ball past Oliver Kahn.
Both teams then had chances during the rest of the first half, notably Sebastian Deisler for Germany; David Seaman and Oliver Kahn both made some good saves. Just before the end of the half, England got another free kick on the edge of the German penalty area, which was again taken by Beckham. Though he failed to beat the German wall, he was able to cross the ball back into the penalty area. Rio Ferdinand headed it back to Steven Gerrard, who shot the ball into the bottom-left corner of the German goal from 25 yards out, putting England 2–1 up.
Three minutes after the kick-off, a cross from David Beckham found Emile Heskey, who headed the ball down to Michael Owen, who was unmarked. Owen hit the ball into right-hand corner of the net. Oliver Kahn managed to get a hand to the ball, but was unable to stop England claiming a 3–1 lead.
Although Germany were able to create further chances, it was England who struck again in the 66th minute. Steven Gerrard's successful tackle gave him possession, and he set up a great through ball for Owen, who sprinted into the box and fired the ball over Kahn's head to give England a 4–1 lead. This made Michael Owen the first England player since 1966 World Cup winner Geoff Hurst to score a hat-trick against Germany.
England began to defend their heavy lead. However, in the 74th minute, they managed to extend it through a counterattack. Ferdinand won the ball in defence and gave it to Paul Scholes. Scholes progressed up the pitch through a one-two passing move with David Beckham. Scholes passed the ball to Emile Heskey, who ran past German defender Marko Rehmer and hit the ball low past Kahn to make it 5–1.
The final twenty minutes were quiet, with Germany beaten and England having no need to create any more chances. Some German fans left the game early in disgust, whilst the English fans celebrated their biggest victory since a 6–0 win over Luxembourg in 1999. It was England's biggest away win since 1993, when they had beaten San Marino 7–1. For Germany, it was the first time they had conceded five goals or more since a 6–3 defeat by France in 1958, and only the third time in their history that they had lost by four goals or more. Germany would go on to concede another 5–1 defeat, against Romania, in 2004.
The game proved a massive boost for the England squad's morale, and greatly increased the popularity of manager Sven-Göran Eriksson. It was a low point for the German national team, whose performances had been worsening after the mid-1990s. It spawned two hit records: "England 5 – Germany 1" by The Business and "Sven Sven Sven" by Bell & Spurling. German manager Rudi Völler's father is reported to have suffered a heart attack watching the game.
England beat Albania 2–0 in their next match, which was held just four days later. This meant that England and Germany entered the final qualifying game with an equal number of points, though England now had a better goal difference. Neither team managed to win their final group game, both drawing. This sent England directly through, whilst Germany went into the play-offs, in which they defeated Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup.
At the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, Germany enjoyed more success, finishing second overall, which made them the most successful European team in that year's cup. Germany also scored the tournament's biggest win that year, being an 8–0 rout of Saudi Arabia. Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn won FIFA's Golden Ball, becoming the first goalkeeper to ever do so in World Cup history. England were only able to reach the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Brazil, who would go on to beat Germany 2–0 in the final.
|Jancker 6'||Report||Owen 12', 48', 66'
|Shots on target||3||6|