LONDON — With the ball at his feet and only the goalkeeper to beat, Thomas Müller blew it.
The Germany forward, recalled to the national team for the European Championship after being dropped following the team’s early World Cup elimination three years ago, had a perfect chance to score a late equalizer against England on Tuesday.
Müller had only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in front of him after a throughball found him running into the area in the 81st minute with Germany trailing 1-0. He sent his shot just wide of the post and then sank to his knees with both hands despondently resting on the top of his head.
“We didn’t take advantage of the two great opportunities we had,” Germany coach Joachim Löw said, referring to Müller’s miss and an earlier chance from forward Timo Werner. “It was clear it was going to be all about patience. It was expected that not many opportunities would be created. You need to take advantage of them to be clinical.”
It was the closest Germany would get in the final minutes of the match at Wembley Stadium. Five minutes later, Germany’s hopes ended when England captain Harry Kane scored with a header to make it 2-0 with his first goal of the tournament. Raheem Sterling had scored the first in the 75th with his third.
It was England’s first win over a German team in a knockout match at a major soccer tournament since the 1966 World Cup final.
Müller was among three players dropped by Löw after that group stage elimination in Russia at the last World Cup. He and Mats Hummels were both brought back into the fold and included in the squad for Euro 2020, but Jérôme Boateng was not.
Before rejoining the team, the 31-year-old Müller hadn’t played for Germany since Nov. 19, 2018. He had a strong season in the Bundesliga, however, scoring 11 goals and setting up 21 more to help Bayern Munich win its ninth straight league title — and Müller’s 10th overall.
But he again couldn’t replicate his scoring prowess at the European Championship, where his barren run of no goals in 15 appearances continued in this year’s continental competition.
Before the match, Müller reflected on why Kane hadn’t scored at the tournament so far.
“Great strikers are best at being patient,” Müller said. “A striker has to be able to lie in wait for his chance. I don’t know why Harry Kane hasn’t been in the right positions to finish an attack like he normally does. I am sure his technique and his finishing qualities haven’t changed much over the past weeks.”
Müller certainly was in the right place on Tuesday for his chance, and he missed it.
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