TEN years ago this week Sven-Goran Eriksson took his England side to the Olympic Stadium in Germany and came away with a famous 5-1 victory thanks to three of Liverpool’s talented youngsters. On a night of ecstasy for the nation the pride was amplified only on Merseyside as then Anfield hero Michael Owen scored the first hat-trick against Germany since 1966- and did it without the help of any crossbar or linesman!
Carsten Jancker had opened the scoring for Germany with a goal in the sixth minute before a headed ball into the box was met by Liverpool’s Nick Barmby who squared the ball to club-mate Michael Owen to equalise for England. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Steven Gerrard brought the ball down 25 yards out from goal and smashed a half-volley into the far corner of the net past the helpless Oliver Kahn to give England a 2-1 lead going into the break.
After the re-start David Beckham’s cross from the right found Emile Heskey in the box and he headed down to an unmarked Michael Owen who claimed his second goal of the game with a shot which beat Kahn at his near-post despite the German getting a hand to it.
In the 65th minute Steven Gerrard won the ball from Michael Ballack in midfield and played a superb through ball to Owen who ran into the box and lifted it over Kahn and into the German net to become the first player to score a hat-trick against Germany since Sir Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup Final.
Ten minutes later the score was 5-1 as Liverpool striker Emile Heskey raced clear of the German defence and slotted the ball into the back of the net to give England a memorable victory in Munich, one which has yet to be bettered.
After the game Steven Gerrard commented: “I said at the beginning of the week that if everyone plays to the best of their ability then we are better than Germany man for man and we have proved it.”
“We can’t believe it ended up 5-1 and it’s hard to sink in. I had dreamed of scoring against Germany. In the build-up there is a lot of time to think about things and I wondered what it would feel like to score against them. When it happened I felt like running into the crowd.”
“This is one of the best moments of my career so far!” said then Liverpool player Michael Owen.
“You can dream about scoring a hat-trick but you don’t think it’s going to come true. It was unbelievable. To have done it in Germany’s backyard, they don’t get much bigger than this.”
The victory in Germany would prove to be the highlight of Eriksson’s reign as England manager. At the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea England lost 2-1 at the quarter-final stage to a Brazil team who went on to win the competition. Steven Gerrard missed the 2002 finals after suffering a groin injury and despite goals from Owen and Heskey along the way it was not enough to beat the Brazilians.
The 5-1 demolition of Germany in Munich is one of the most memorable results in England’s history. And while it was England’s night in the Olympiastadion, it was manufactured in front of the Kop.