Germany groans after losing to Italy

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Two late Italian goals stunned soccer fans across Germany and ended the host's dream of lifting the World Cup.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Two late Italian goals stunned soccer fans across Germany and ended the host's dream of lifting the World Cup. Most fans drifted home quietly in shock and disappointment, though some scuffled with celebrating Italy supporters. Huge crowds had crammed streets and squares equipped with giant television screens to watch Tuesday evening's semifinal match, hoping to cheer coach Juergen Klinsmann's team into the final. In Berlin, an estimated 1 million people turned the capital's ``Fan Mile'' into a sea of black, red and yellow German flags. Howls of frustration as a German goal failed to materialize turned to groans as Italy scored twice in the closing minutes of extra time for a 2-0 win. But most filed away in silence, some shaking their heads as they tried to take in a defeat that came just as Germany seemed close to a penalty shootout - a national specialty. Signs of vandalism In Dortmund, where the match was played, fights broke out in the city after the game and police said they detained 37 people. Scuffles were also reported in towns including Cologne and Wuppertal. Police detained dozens nationwide for fighting and vandalism, but praised the vast majority of Germany fans as good losers. Italy supporters drove in columns through several German towns, sounding their horns in celebration. The "Fan Mile,'' the biggest of the outdoor festivals that has sprung up for the World Cup, was extended before the semi-final to accommodate the growing crush of home fans. About 200,000 people watched the game in Dortmund; 70,000 in Hamburg and 55,000 in Munich. Frankfurt let fans into its World Cup stadium, which already has seen its last match, to watch a live broadcast. During the tournament, "Berlin, Berlin, we're going to Berlin'' became a favourite fan chant as confidence built that Germany would reach Sunday's final in the capital. Instead, Klinsmann's team is headed to Stuttgart for the third-place playoff. (AP)

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