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Sunday, 30 June, 2002, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK

Germans weep at defeat

By Rob Broomby
BBC Berlin correspondent

The two goals which ended their dreams stunned the Berlin crowd.

German fans were out in force to enjoy their seventh World Cup final but they went home disappointed.

The last time the national team won, in 1990, the country stood on the verge of reunification and Potsdammer Platz, where many gathered on Sunday to watch on the big screen was a bombed-out wasteland between east and west.

Now the modernist facades of the Sony Centre were a futuristic backdrop to an enormous football party.

The fans clad in the red, black and gold flags of the federal republic were in good cheer.

They were determined to enjoy Germany's first world cup final as a truly united nation. But it wasn't to be.

Enthusiasm for the German team had been muted throughout the tournament, many had even argued that their team had not really earned their World Cup final place.

No one had expected them to qualify let alone go all the way.

One German diplomat called his nation's team a band of gherkins.

Hope

But the team's strongman and keeper, Oliver Kahn, soon became the nation's hero and "Kahn-mania" had climbed throughout the competition.

But his large safe hands, featured in many German newspapers over the weekend were no match for Ronaldo.

With kick-off the thousands of fans punched the air and chanted victory.

They dared to dream that, against the odds, they might just beat the four times champions Brazil.

The supporters, many queuing since the early morning for standing room below the glass and steel exteriors were determined to enjoy the party.

A small band of bikini clad samba dancers, with huge head-dresses in Brazil's national colours, stood out against the German flags.

Party over

The first half electrified the crowd. They were holding their own against the overwhelming favourites.

But the mood changed rapidly. Ronaldo slipped the ball in the net and chanting gave way to anguished cries.

With the second goal they knew it was all over.

Shoulders began to sag and smiles gave way to glum faces.

Some started to leave, others comforted themselves with the knowledge that they were after all in second place.

Only the Brazilians continued to dance. But the cleaners were soon sweeping up: The party was over.


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