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England - Federal Republic of Germany

30 July 1966: England 4-2 West Germany aet

Any Englishman, whether or not he was even born at the time, will swear to you that the ball did actually cross the line… Along with Geoff Hurst's hat-trick - the only to date in a FIFA World Cup™ final - and West Germany's equaliser with the last kick of normal time, it was truly a legendary moment which Wembley hosted in 1966.

Charlton vs Beckenbauer

The 1966 FIFA World Cup England™ was a colourful one, even though it was the last to be broadcast in black and white. Portuguese forward Eusebio outshone the injured Pele, but it was the hosts and their Western European rivals West Germany who made it through to the final at Wembley, in front of 93,000 partisan spectators. How would Franz Beckenbauer and Uwe Seeler cope with the threat of England captain Bobby Moore and midfielder Bobby Charlton, the two-goal hero of the semi-final? In the end, these four players neutralised each other and it was a little known centre-forward, on the bench for England's three group matches, who wrote his name in the annals.

Tillkowski shaken

Both sides created their fair share of chances in the early stages, but neither Gordon Banks in the goal to the right of the royal box (with Queen Elizabeth II in attendance) nor Hans Tillkowski were troubled, with the majority of shots being wide of the mark. Swiss referee Mr Gottfried Dienst was forced to halt play after a cross from the England left saw Hurst and Tillkowski jump for the same ball with the German coming off much the worse. After a good few minutes treatment, the 'keeper rose gingerly and was able to continue, but received little sympathy from England, Martin Peters making him pull off an impressive save at full stretch from a fierce 30-yard drive.

Held the hero

The home crowd, encouraged by England's strong start, were silenced in the 12th minute, however. A hopeful ball, lofted into the England box from the left by Siegfried Held, was not headed to safety and Helmut Haller pounced to drill a cross-shot from 10 yards low to Banks' right to give the Germans the lead, notching his fifth goal of the tournament (0-1, 12').

The West Ham connection levels

England were shaken, and very much stirred into action. With Peters, Hurst and Roger Hunt full of energy up front, the German defence could only hold out five minutes before the equaliser came. Wolfgang Overath tripped Moore some forty yards from goal and the England captain spotted Hurst unmarked in the box. A perfectly flighted free-kick by the West Ham half-back was met by the head of his club colleague and England were level (1-1, 18").

Double save from Banks

After this opening round, in which the two European heavyweights each landed a punch, the combat settled into a rhythm - a frenetic one, but a rhythm nevertheless. Both teams looked to build from midfield and play the ball behind the opposition back-line, but both defences proved themselves up to the task, closing down play admirably. Long-range efforts became the only option, with Bobby Charlton and Peters for England and Seeler and Halle all coming close, without finding a way past either Tillkowski or Banks, the latter notably making a fine double-save from Overath and Lothar Emmerich and an athletic tip around the post from an Emmerich pile-driver in stoppage time. The half ended as it began, with each side showing spirit in attack but above all outstanding commitment in defence.

Attacking football from the Germans

The second half is a mirror image of the first, with the action, and the goals again coming within a quarter of an hour of the whistle - this time though, it was the final rather than the opening whistle that was a marker for the action. After having more of the play towards the end of the first half, West Germany again put England under the cosh in the second stanza - Seeler being a veritable live-wire in the attacking third of the park, full-back Karl-Heinz Schnellinger venturing up the flank to support the forwards and only Bobby Charlton's vigilance keeping the young Franz Beckenbauer from adding his flair to the German front line.

Charlton goes close… twice

Chances are few and far between in the middle third of the half, save for a two-minute period at the midway point where Bobby Charlton found himself closed down in the six-yard box by a combination of Beckenbauer and Tillkowski, who in their haste to retrieve the ball clattered into each other. With the 'keeper again shaken, Peters sent a ball across the face of the goal which Bobby Charlton was inches away from converting.

England nearly there

A quarter of an hour from the final whistle saw the game spark into life again. With both defences tiring, spaces opened up around Wembley's already vast expanses, and England were the first to capitalise. Alan Ball's shot from Hunt's through-ball was turned into the side netting by Tillkowski, but from the resultant corner, Hurst's shot from outside the box ballooned into the air off Horst Hoettges and Peters seized the loose ball and lashed it home from close range (2-1, 78").

"Rule Britannia" sung too early…

England looked to deliver the killer blow against an exhausted German side, as the almost six-figure crowd began to celebrate victory. Bobby Charlton shot wide after being sent through by Moore, and Hurst and Peters did likewise from distance. With the clock running down and the crowd singing "Rule Britannia", Germany won a free-kick 35 yards out for a push from behind by Ray Wilson on Held. The free-kick from Emmerich is blasted against the wall, but the ball somehow ricochets through and is hooked across the six-yard box. As legs are outstretched, the ball bobbles, evades Banks and midfielder Wolfgang Weber slams the ball into the roof of the net! (2-2, 89"). England barely had time to kick off again before the referee brought normal time to an end - the FIFA World Cup final was going into extra time, for the first time in history…

Into extra time

With the England players dejected after seeing victory snatched away from them and the West Germans exhausted and suffering from cramp after their last-ditch efforts, the first period of extra time started slowly. Bobby Charlton was the first to pick up the pace with a reflex shot on the turn that struck the foot of Tillkowski's left-hand post, then Peters flashed a shot inches wide from outside the box.

Did it cross the line?

And then came one of the most talked-about moments in FIFA World Cup history… As England built from defence, Ball made ground down the right flank. His cross found Hurst, again unmarked in the box and with enough time to turn and shoot. The ball clattered against the underside of the bar, thudded down on the line…? behind the line…? and spun away. Almost all 22 players gather round as Mr Dienst consults Mr Tofik Bakhramov, the Soviet assistant referee… Seconds later, the players in red jerseys run jubilantly back to the half-way line whilst those in white surround the referee in protest - the goal has been given! (3-2, 101").

"They think it's all over…"

The second half of extra time brought more end-to-end football and Germany once again threw their last reserves of energy into the search for an equaliser, this time coming up empty-handed, however. In the final seconds of the game, as England snuffed out West Germany's final attack and broke up the park on a counter-attack, the legendary British commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme observed that "some people are on the pitch. They think it's all over…" At which point Hurst burst down the inside left channel and rifled home a bullet into the top corner…. "It is now!" (4-2, 120"). Sir Geoff, as he was to become, later admitted that his shot was merely an attempt at sending the ball as far into the Wembley stands as possible in order to kill precious time on the clock. His striker's instincts took over, however, writing his name in the annals as the first ever scorer of a hat-trick in a FIFA World Cup final and, of course, making himself a national hero.