The hosts' bandwagon finally came to a juddering halt as Germany once again got the better of England to reach a second successive UEFA European Championship final.
England's campaign had been carried by a wave of passion and patriotism ever since their splendid display in defeating the Netherlands 4-1 in the group stage. That optimism was checked, however, when Germany, England's vanquishers in an epic 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final, once again stood between them and a major showpiece. Confidence was renewed when Alan Shearer headed Terry Venables' side into a third-minute lead, but Stefan Kuntz levelled the scores just after the quarter-hour.
Though England came agonisingly close going in front once more, there was no separating the sides and another penalty shoot-out was required. Gareth Southgate was this time the fall guy, spurning the first effort of sudden death to hand captain Andreas Möller the duty of sending his country through.
That was the end of a blockbuster encounter which had kicked into life in just the second minute, Paul Ince's rasping volley athletically turned over by Andreas Köpke. The Germany goalkeeper was beaten just 30 seconds later, however, Tony Adams flicking on Paul Gascoigne's corner for Shearer to swoop and register his fifth goal of the tournament.
Germany bit back on 16 minutes, though, Möller feeding Thomas Helmer who swivelled inside the area and crossed for Kuntz to force past David Seaman. But England were not cowed by squandering their advantage, Teddy Sheringham denied on the goal line after a trademark near-post dart to meet a corner and Shearer heading Darren Anderton's cross wide.
Helmer put over the best opportunity of the second half as both sides attempted to tighten up. Golden goal extra time brought them out of their shells, though, with England showing particular endeavour having suffered such heartache at the hands of the penalties in the past.
Anderton struck a post and Gascoigne came a stud's length from poking in Shearer's cross but there was no avoiding the shoot-out; Southgate was the man who suffered most as a jubilant Germany dashed the hopes of a nation.