As Harry Kane slid forward on his knees, heading the ball into the German goal, past Manuel Neuer for England’s all-important second goal, Wembley exploded.
Ecstatic England supporters deliriously celebrated their side’s advancement to the quarterfinals, a collective unburdening of decades-worth of pain at the hands of their old adversaries.
England had not beaten Germany in a knockout match at a major tournament since 1966.
The cumulative history of failure, in which England have been knocked out of five major tournaments by the Germans during the 55 years since 1966, could have placed an impossible burden on the shoulders of England’s young players.
Instead, they displayed a maturity that helped them not only absorb the pressure place on them by their country’s erstwhile bogeymen, but came through it stronger.
The enormity of England’s obsession with major tournament defeat at the hands of Germany was on display everywhere you looked.
From the exuberant celebrations in the stands to the wild joy on display in the BBC television studio, where Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer — no strangers to heartache at the hands of Germany — wildly danced around the statuesque former Germany international, Jürgen Klinsmann.
However, England coach Gareth Southgate gave the most poignant display of hurt in his post-match interview with the BBC.
Southgate missed the deciding penalty the last time the two sides met at Wembley in a major tournament, the semifinal of Euro 96.
The post-match interview showed just how much the personal pain of that penalty miss still affects him.
“I was looking at the big screen and saw [England’s Euro 96 goalkeeper] Dave Seaman up there,” Southgate said, before pausing.
“But what’s lovely is that we’ve given people another day to remember.”
That penalty miss ended up being arguably the defining moment in the story of Southgate’s otherwise stellar career.
“The past is great for nostalgia,” Southgate said prior to the match, “but this team are about making their own stories”.
Now, their story includes victory over Germany, contrary to the experience of so many of their peers.
Pragmatic England’s defensive solidity great for tournament football
England is yet to concede a goal at this year’s Euros — the only team to do so.
The only other time England has started a tournament by keeping four clean sheets was in 1966.
Southgate has set up England with defensive solidity in mind and it worked brilliantly to repel almost all German attacks at Wembley.
Aside from a stunning save by Jordan Pickford to tip a blistering Kai Havertz thunderbolt over the bar at the start of the second half, and a corresponding smother in the first half from Timo Werner, England’s defence held firm, even in the face of sustained German pressure.
The only other big chance Germany had, a horrible miss from Thomas Müller with the score at 1-0, was as a result of a Raheem Sterling turnover.
Harry Maguire, who was named as UEFA’s man of the match, said the system England play, as designed by Southgate, made the difference.
“I think we have excellent defenders in this country … and a magnificent goalkeeper behind us,” Maguire said of his back three partners, Kyle Walker and John Stones.
Assisted defensively by wing backs Luke Shaw and Kieran Trippier, as well as Declan Rice and the energetic Kalvin Phillips as shields in midfield — a pair described as “animals” who “ate up the grass” by Raheem Sterling — England looked, if not impenetrable defensively, then certainly assured.
“It is a unit, it comes from Gareth in the way he sets us up,” Maguire said.
“It starts from the front and finishes with us. Keeping clean sheets is nice but the main thing is winning football matches.”
England is playing tournament football
Maguire could have replaced “winning” with “not losing” as being more imperative in tournament football, which is something England appears to have pretty well sorted.
Southgate has nailed the concept of how to play tournament football from the off at Euro 2020, packing his team defensively and loading his attacking third with players capable of breaking open a game all on their own.
“You change the shape, you pick certain personnel instead of others and, if it goes wrong, you’re dead,” Southgate said.
England, so far, is still alive, suggesting Southgate has got everything right.
Even by resisting the clamour to include as many of England’s attacking threats as possible, Southgate has developed.
Jack Grealish game off the bench to great effect against Germany, having a hand in both goals and adding an attacking spark that had been missing up until that point.
There will be a clamour now to include Grealish in the starting XI for the quarterfinal against Ukraine in Rome, however, Southgate is just as likely to maintain the status quo.
“We felt that speed in behind Harry [Kane] could cause them a problem,” Southgate said by way of an explanation for his selection for the Germany game.
“I thought Bukayo [Saka] and Raheem [Sterling] really created that jeopardy in their backline.”
Against Ukraine, Southgate could opt for a similarly pragmatic approach, waiting to deploy the full range of attacking options available to him late in the match, against leggy defenders more prone to errors.
As the full-time whistle blew, Southgate looked up to the sky, fists clenched in triumph.
Southgate has shown he can be patient, 25 years after missing that penalty, complete atonement is now just three games away.