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England defers G-Day

Cologne/Berlin, June 20: “We want England! We want England!”

They’re going to get England, well, only in the final. If either side gets that far.

German fans, partying after their team thumped Ecuador 3-0, were ready to take on England in the next, knockout round but David Beckham’s topped their group, setting up an encounter with Ecuador at the weekend.

If Germany ended its match in Berlin looking like champions in its supporters’ eyes, England began its against Sweden, a team it hasn’t beaten in 38 years, with style that hadn’t been seen in its first two matches.

With Wayne Rooney starting and Joe Cole running circles around the Swedish defence on the right, England fashioned the best spell of play of the tournament so far.

A fierce, dipping right-foot shot from over 30 metres by Joe Cole put it 1-0 up after Rooney had threatened to score.

The match was turned on its head after half-time as Sweden came out attacking and scored from a corner with Marcus Allback heading the ball into the net in the 51st minute.

It was the 2,000th goal in World Cup finals history.

Sweden came close to scoring at least twice after hitting the equaliser, Steven Gerrard, coming on as substitute, fending one off from the goal line.

England seemed to have completely lost its way after a bright start until Gerrard headed in from a Cole cross. Sweden kept pressing for an equaliser for a second time and got it in the 90th minute to qualify for the second round.

Seeing the troubles it had in the second half, it may be just as well England’s not meeting Germany next.

Miroslav Klose struck twice to lead Germany to victory over Ecuador, which, having gone through to the last 16 in second spot, showed little desire to scrap it out.

German coach Juergen Klinsmann said it was mission accomplished for a team capturing the imagination of fans across the host nation. “When you play at home you have the crowd behind you and that gives the players an extra push. It’s World Cup fever,” he said after the game.

An estimated 700,000 fans partied at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Thousands of fans with dyed hair and faces painted in the national colours jumped up and down, clapping and singing “This is what winners look like”.

A handful of Ecuador supporters who had come to watch their team said they had expected the outcome.

“Our team played so crap, this was boring in the end,” one Ecuador fan said. “At least I hope we don’t have to face England now.”

That’s who they will face.

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