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BBC Five Live's Alan Green
reports from Wembley Stadium
 real 14k

Thursday, 24 May, 2001, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
Keegan's England farewell
Kevin Keegan
Keegan is the new Man City boss
England 0-1 Germany

England delivered a performance almost tailor-made to force coach Kevin Keegan into exile as Germany spoiled the Wembley farewell with a priceless World Cup qualifying win.

Keegan's tactical limitations were exposed as cruelly as England's technical deficiencies in a display as rundown as the famous stadium itself.

And as Keegan walked off with a chorus of catcalls ringing in his ears after England's dismal effort, he was ready to hand his resignation to shocked FA officials.

The pressure finally proved too much for Keegan, under fire after the failures of Euro 2000, as England penned the worst possible final page in Wembley's history books.

It was also a sad farewell to the Twin Towers for Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman after his blunder gifted Dietmar Hamann an early goal that turned out to be Germany's winner.

Coach Keegan called on England to give Wembley something to remember them by before the bulldozers move in - but they failed to deliver as the curse of Germany returned to haunt them again.

Germany demonstrated their rediscovered resilience under new coach Rudi Voller, while Keegan once again left himself exposed to allegations of tactical naivety with a controversial team selection that backfired.

Wembley has seen many glorious occasions and historical landmarks in its 77-year history - but this would not have been remembered as one of them except for the drama that unfolded behind the scenes after the final whistle.

Kevin Keegan
Keegan walks

England were short on ideas and invention as the rain lashed down at Wembley, and Germany deserved the win for their greater organisation alone.

Keegan wanted to continue the reversal in fortunes that came with the Euro 2000 victory over Germany, instead Voller's side revived bitter memories of the years of hurt to get England's World Cup 2002 campaign off to the worst possible start.

It left England in desperate need of a result in Finland on Wednesday - and Keegan feeling he had no option other than to quit.

Keegan showed his gambler's instinct to the last by giving Gareth Southgate the holding midfield role ahead of established figures Paul Ince and Dennis Wise.

But it was Germany who settled quicker to their task at rain-soaked Wembley - and the conditions played a crucial part in Hamann's opener after 13 minutes.

England were slow to form a defensive wall after Paul Scholes fouled Michael Ballack fully 30 yards from goal.

And Seaman was equally slow to react to Hamann's instant right foot strike as it skidded along the turf, only getting a hand to the ball as it slipped agonisingly into the net.

It was a nightmare revisited for the pony-tailed Arsenal veteran, who admitted his worst Wembley moment - before Hamann's intervention - was allowing Paul Gascoigne's long range free-kick to beat him in an FA Cup semi-final.

Confidence

England had their own set-piece opportunity six minutes later, but David Beckham's free kick was comfortably collected by Oliver Kahn.

Germany grew in confidence throughout the first half, while England struggled to establish any sort of supremacy, with Michael Owen and Andy Cole starved of worthwhile service.

Cole did escape the close attentions of the German defence briefly to test Kahn with a header in one of England's few threatening first half moments.

And Germany were swift to demonstrate their danger again when Seaman was forced to save low to his right from Carsten Ramelow's shot.

England's best moment of a bitterly disappointing opening period came three minutes before the interval, when captain Tony Adams stole in on Beckham's free kick at the far post, forcing a spectacular diving save from Kahn.

Keegan's lack-lustre England needed to find attacking impetus from somewhere - and Newcastle's Kieron Dyer was chosen to provide it.

He replaced Manchester United's Gary Neville as England looked to change the shape of the game

But Germany remained dangerous - and Seaman needed to make amends for his earlier blunder to stop them doubling their advantage after 52 minutes.

The dangerous Mehmet Scholl turned Martin Keown inside the penalty area, and brought a fine one-handed save from Seaman as Oliver Bierhoff waited to pounce inside the six-yard area.

A disappointing scoreline
A disappointing scoreline

Beckham looked to be England's best creative hope, and he brought more acrobatics from Kahn with a trademark 25-yard drive which the Germany keeper touched over the bar.

England had finally forced Germany into retreat, and Owen wasted a chance to equalise when his control was poor after he was put through.

And as Germany's composure was seriously disturbed for the first time, England saw another opportunity wasted when Nicky Barmby's cross drifted behind his team-mates as they raced into the penalty area.

Beckham was still striving to put England back on terms, and another long range effort was narrowly off target after 78 minutes.

England's desire to attack left them vulnerable on the break, and Germany almost took advantage, but were given a reprieve when sweeper Jens Nowotny stumbled at point blank range.

Beckham immediately limped off with what looked like a recurrence of the knee injury that made him doubtful before the game, and with him went England's last hope of starting their World Cup campaign with a win.

Wembley's farewell fireworks were washed away by the rain - but nothing could dampen German celebrations after they ruined the party Keegan and England had planned for the great old stadium's final day.

And for Keegan himself, that final walk down Wembley's tunnel may have been the sight of a legend striding into football exile.


England: Seaman, G. Neville, Le Saux, Southgate, Adams, Keown, Beckham, Scholes, Cole, Owen, Barmby. Subs: Barry, Martyn, Parlour, Dyer, Heskey, Wise, Phillips.

Germany: Kahn, Rehmer, Linke, Ramelow, Nowotny, Ballack, Scholl, Deisler, Bierhoff, Hamann, Bode. Subs: Lehmann, Rink, Beinlich, Wosz, Baumann, Ziege, Neuville.

Referee: Stefano Braschi (Italy)

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