The Telegraph
Tuesday , July 15 , 2014
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Hurrah & heartbreak on long night
Cup of joy for German corner

Manuela Barm had “felt bad for the poor Brazil boys” after the Germans put five in the net with two more to come. On Sunday night, sympathy was the last thing on her mind as Messi’s men, and most of Calcutta, clung to hope for 113 minutes.

Manuela, a 52-year-old journalist taking a sabbatical, watched the World Cup final at the German consulate on Hastings Park Road in Alipore with an 80-strong crowd that erupted like a mini Maracana the moment ‘Super’ Mario netted the most important goal of the tournament.

“The perfect result for us. A hard-fought game that went almost the length of extra time and then a brilliant goal that saved everyone the heartbreak of a tie-breaker,” said Joel Dunand, 32, who was there with wife Sunayana Sen, an alumnus of La Martiniere for Girls.

The guests may have been mixed in terms of nationality but most seemed happy to be on the hosts’ side, never mind deputy consul general Rosemarie E-Hille’s carte blanche before kick-off: “Please feel free to support Argentina.”

French, Italians, Britons, Americans and Russians, including acting consul general Yuri Kolobanov, alternated between wildly cheering a Thomas Muller shot at the goal and quietly appreciating a Lionel Messi move down the right flank. The only ones who openly wore the rival colours on their hearts and sleeves were members of a local Argentina fan club that the consulate had invited for the screening.

Vera Wilkens, who has been working for the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce in Calcutta since May, said she couldn’t have imagined she would get to watch the Cup final with “such a wonderful crowd”.

Gracious to a fault, the Germans in the audience were almost indulgent when the few Argentina fans around displayed their lung power after Messi beat Mats Hummels to the Brazuca in the box. But as the match wore on, the German voices rose to drown the Latin American support. When Gonzalo Higuain missed what looked like a sitter in the 21st minute, it even triggered some taunting.

The decibel level in the packed house rose further when the Germans launched a tandem raid through Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Miroslav Klose, only for Benedikt Howedes to hit the post and Muller to be ruled offside as he tried to score off the rebound.

As the teams continued to fight a grim battle of missed chances amid oohs and aahs from the audience, football-shaped pastries and bottles of beer kept spirits up and stomachs from rumbling.

Occasionally, someone would let fly a barb, but hardly one that a Mohun Bagan or East Bengal supporter would find offensive!

If there was an attempt to hold back, the dam broke in the 113th minute when Mario Goetze decided it was time for him to be the hero. Bear hugs followed, making up for what the German football party lacked by way of large beer mugs. And When Messi struck Argentina’s last free kick way over the roof moments later, a voice from the German contingent screamed: “Go and play for Barca!”

For Manuela, who had said at the end of 90 minutes that she would “give anything for us to take the lead”, the final whistle was as much a moment of joy as Goetze’s goal was.

Deputy consul general E-Hille said she was delighted that Germany won and her guests had had a good time. “I had expected more goals... but the noise levels here suggested everyone had a decent time!”