A repeat of the 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final, England were hoping to lay their penalty shootout ghosts, but it would be a case of déjà-vu as Andreas Köpke saved Gareth Southgate's spot-kick.
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Germany 1-1 England (6-5 pens)
(Shearer 3, Kuntz 16)
Wembley, 26 June 1996
In a thrilling semi-final at Wembley England were unable to hold on to the lead given them by Alan Shearer's header for more that 13 minutes, as Stefan Kuntz levelled for Germany. Chances fell to either side in normal and extra time before the hosts, and Gareth Southgate in particular, suffered further spot-kick misery.
With England swept up in football fever, the 4-1 defeat of the Netherlands and penalty shoot-out success against Spain, had given Terry Venables's side the belief that they could overcome their great rivals, who had knocked them out of the FIFA World Cup at this same stage six years earlier in Turin.
To that end got off to the perfect start; only three minutes had passed when Köpke saved a long shot from Paul Ince, but Paul Gascoigne's ensuing corner was headed on at the near post by Tony Adams for Shearer to nod in. Germany did not take long to level, however, Andreas Möller sending the ball out to the left, from where Thomas Helmer's accurate low pass sent Kuntz through to lunge the ball past David Seaman.
If the goal deflated England, they did not show it. Darren Anderton showing his promise after coming back from one of his infamous injuries and Gascoigne continuing his Indian summer. But Germany had their own stars, albeit unsung ones in the form of Dieter Eilts and Helmer, the latter making a vital tackle on Gascoigne in the second half as England were limited to a number of half-chances.
Extra time, which had transformed that 1990 match into an epic, followed suit here. Both sides had clear-cut opportunities, though England were unlucky not to end the contest with their first, after only two minutes. David Platt sent Steve McManaman away on the right, the cross came in low, and Anderton hit the near post.
Agony for England nearly turned into something worse when their opponents went straight upfield and forced a corner. Möller took it and Kuntz headed it in, but breathed a sigh of relief when referee Sándor Puhl disallowed it for pushing. Gascoigne, at full stretch, then came within a whisker of turning Anderton's cross into an open front of goal.
But penalties were called upon again. Stuart Pearce, who had missed against West Germany at Italia '90 but redeemed himself days earlier against Spain, scored again, as did Platt and Thomas Hässler, as they had done in Turin, but again the Germans were unfazed by having to follow England's successful shots, holding their nerve to make the score 5-5.
Unfortunately for England, Southgate's effort was saved by Köpke, leaving Möller - who knew he would miss the final through suspension – to rifle away the winner and leave the Wembley crowd distraught.
What happened next?
Unlike at EURO '92, Germany would not be tripped up by the underdogs in the final. Beaten 2-0 by Denmark four years previously, this time they held their nerve, after coming from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1, thanks to two Oliver Bierhoff goals – the second a golden goal. Germany would disappoint at the World Cup two years later but remain a respected international force, reaching the finals at UEFA EURO 2008TM and the 2002 World Cup and the last-four stage at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
England, meanwhile, have never since matched those Wembley achievements, making do with last-eight finishes at UEFA EURO 2004 and the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.