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Groans as German dream is denied

Berlin fan
Near miss: A German fan in Berlin shouts support for his team  

BERLIN, Germany -- Germans reacted in disbelief as their team were defeated in the World Cup final 2-0 by Brazil.

Hundreds of thousands of German fans crowded the nation's city centres, bars and restaurants to cheer their team on in one of the most dramatic World Cup finals in recent memory.

Despite the 2-0 defeat, many Germans still seemed proud of a team that many soccer analysts had believed would not survive the tournament's first round.

"It was a super game, it's the best match we could play," Benny Wagner, 24, watching the match at Berlin's Potsdamer Platz on a large screen, along with 3,000 other Germans, told The Associated Press.

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Others were in tears. As the crowd filed away from Potsdamer Platz, many remained in front of the large screen, holding their faces and crying after the final whistle blew.

"I've so disappointed that we didn't win -- I really thought we'd do it," said Kristin Klawikowksi, 22.

"I just can't talk, I'm speechless," said Uwe Bindl, decked out from head to foot in the national colours of red, yellow and black.

Despite the disappointment, the only report of violence came in Leipzig, where police said 12 people were taken into custody and several people injured -- among them two police officers -- as masked fans pelted police with bottles and firecrackers following Ronaldo's 79th minute goal and cars were vandalised.

At Stuttgart's Schlossplatz, a huge groan erupted from 35,000 spectators as Ronaldo scored the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute.

At Frankfurt's city centre square, 12,000 fans formed a sea of red, yellow and black in everything from flags to face paint. As far as the eye could see, the crowds filled side streets in bright sunshine.

At the capital's Potsdamer Platz, nonstop chants of "Deutschland, Deutschland," erupted.

Again and again cheers of "Ollie Ollie!" went up as their standout goalie, Oliver Kahn, thwarted Brazilian scoring chances, though his mistake was seen as partly responsible for Brazil's first goal.

The largely young crowd was also filled with spectators waving the green-and-yellow Brazilian flags, while groups of women from the South American country danced as the pictures of the players flickered across the massive screen.

A race in the German touring cars series in the southern German city of Nuremberg was delayed until after the match, but 80,000 crowded into the Norisring track beforehand to watch the battle of soccer superpowers on a large screen.

In Bremen, 15,000 gathered at the cathedral, but many soon left because the screen was not big enough for people in the rear to get a good view. In Leipzig's downtown, several people were heated for heatstroke among the crowd of 2,000.

Munich screening
Germans cheer on their side in front of a giant screen in Munich  

Rain and drizzle hit the north German port city of Hamburg, but 10,000 spectators gathered both at the harbour and on the famous Reeperbahn street.

Germany won its three titles in 1954, 1974 and 1990. As its young team surprisingly won one match after another hopes rose the country could finally regain the trophy.

"It's so tantalizing near -- grab that trophy!" was the first-page plea of the Leipzinger Volkszeitung, an East German daily.

On Monday, the official homecoming reception for the German national team will take place in Frankfurt.



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