BERLIN - Jubilant German fans honked car horns and let off fireworks Sunday after Germany beat old rivals England 4-1 in a thrilling World Cup match that might finally silence the ghosts of a bitter defeat in 1966.
In Berlin, a crowd of 500,000 people watched the game under clear blue skies, erupting with ear-splitting cheers each time Germany scored. Tens of thousands more watched on big television screens at squares across the country.
"It's just so fantastic," said Angela Teckel, a fan watching the match in central Berlin at a public viewing venue that became popular four years ago when Germany hosted the World Cup.
Waving black, red and gold flags and dancing in the streets, Germans embraced the patriotism they often feel so uncomfortable about. Parades of cars honking their horns appeared in cities from the Black Forest to the Baltic.
"That was unbelievable," Germany's top-selling daily Bild said in its online edition. "Germany humiliates England and gets lucky when the referee denies England a clear goal. Thanks, Mr. Referee."
Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, took center stage in the dramatic game when he denied England a goal from a shot struck by midfielder Frank Lampard from 20 metres.
Germans complained for decades that England were unfairly awarded the decisive goal in the 1966 World Cup final that they say should not have been allowed. Lampard's shot bounced in and out in similar fashion on Sunday.
Most Germans, even the president of the German football association, acknowledged that Lampard's goal should have been allowed and no one wanted the controversy to dampen the party mood.
"It was a first class job, a fantastic match," said Juergen Klinsmann, former Germany coach and television analyst. "England were shocked, just blown away. A fantastic day for Germany."
Chancellor Angela Merkel, watching the match at a G20 summit in Canada with British Prime Minister David Cameron, said it was "a fantastic victory."
"Today everything worked out brilliantly," she said.comments