German soccer fans danced in the streets after their team's last-minute victory against Turkey in the Euro 2008 semi-finals. The parties will likely continue as Germany heads to the final.
Jumping for joy: Lukas Podolski gets in amongst the fans after Germany's 3-2 win
At Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, an estimated 500,000 fans gathered to watch the game al fresco.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was happy to catch his midnight flight from Berlin to Japan on Wednesday, after fighting his way through tens of thousands of delirious fans celebrating Germany's place in the Euro 2008 final.
"What a match. I was delighted when Lahm scored," Steinmeier said as he rushed to the airport to board a plane for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers.
With much of Germany glued to the television, it was unsurprising that ZDF television announced record ratings for the semi-final, saying that almost 30 million Germans had watched the match for a market share of 81 per cent.
The continuing euphoria was evident on Thursday in germany's newspapers.
"Final," screamed the front page headline of the Hamburger Abendblatt daily on Thursday, while Kicker sports magazine chose to run with the result on half of its front page "3-2" - plus the sub- header "We are in the final - (Philipp) Lahm saves weak team."
German football icon Franz Beckenbauer spoke of "a battle" in his column for the Bild daily and -- in reference to the at times shocking German performance -- admitted that "this team is becoming more and more of a mystery to me."
But almost the whole country took to the streets immediately after Lahm slammed a stunning, 90th-minute winner to secure Germany's place in the Sunday final against Spain or Russia after an emotional roller-coaster ride during the 90 minutes.
Blackout fails to dampen party spirit
German fans erupted into joyous celebrations after the game
Like viewers around the world, German fans were hit by a TV blackout late in the second half as a thunderstorm raged over Vienna, where the international TV signal was being distributed. The violent weather also led to the evacuation of the Vienna fan zone and the international media centre there.
There was agony among the fans when the screens went blank, but soon at least an audio signal was available again as ZDF reporter Bela Rethy resorted to radio commentary.
The TV signal was restored for the final minutes, and the whole country went into a frenzy once the final whistle was blown.
"The atmosphere is superb. Everyone is in a really good mood," said a Berlin fan zone spokeswoman.
The Berlin fan zone turned into a carnival while fireworks went off in Hamburg, and the population of the Black Forest community of Schoenau hailed its most prominent citizen, Germany coach Joachim Loew.
"Jogi proved yet again that he can do it," said Mayor Bernhard Seger.
The Turkish camp was gracious in defeat. They were outnumbered in the official fan zone in Berlin but watched in large numbers in Kreuzberg and other neighborhoods with strong Turkish communities in the German capital.
"This was a really big step toward integration," said Celal Bingol, president of the football club Turkiyemspor Berlin.
But several incidents were recorded from eastern Germany, with kebab-shops in Dresden attacked by hooligans and six policemen injured during fights in Chemnitz -- the hometown of Germany captain Michael Ballack.
But the atmosphere remained peaceful in most other places, and many Turks living in Germany are now expected to support the team of their adopted country in the big final Sunday in Vienna.
Loew praises team's mentality
Back in Basel, coach Loew praised his side's morale and winning mentality. "We are hugely happy to have won this semi-final. It is a great feeling. It was an amazing fight and incredibly dramatic," he said. "After Turkey leveled at 2-2 we had the morale to get forward and score."
Loew praised the Turkish team who had taken the lead, only to go behind and again score a late goal from Semih Senturk, who struck in the 86th minute to level at 2-2.
"It was a hard-fought battle, and the Turkish team were outstanding," Loew said. "They are a technically good team if you allow them to play, which was why it was very difficult for us to get a grip on the game in some phases. We scored three goals, and that was decisive."
Loew chose the same formation that started in Germany's 3-2 quarter-final victory over Portugal, retaining a 4-2-3-1 system rather than his customary 4-4-2, but his five-man midfield failed to control the Turks, who had the better of the exchanges.
Not everything Jogi saw pleased him
"We lost possession quite a lot right from the start and took ourselves out of the game," Loew said. "A second player up front would have done us good. I have to say we weren't compact in midfield. There were a few spaces there, and the Turks combined well.
"We certainly showed this (winning) mentality. It was really difficult to cope with their goal for 2-2. That the team hit right back shows their morale, and then it was a classy, well-made goal."
Turkey had taken the lead in the 22nd minute through Ugur Boral, only for Bastian Schweinsteiger to equalize four minutes later.
Match-winner Lahm modest after award-winning display
Philipp Lahm, who had earlier provided the cross for Miroslav Klose to head Germany in front in the 79th minute, won the man-of-the-match award. He said his winning goal was the most important of his international career.
"I got a good first touch and then scored the goal. There's a lot of emotion that comes out," he said. "After going out of the 2006 (World Cup) semi-final (to Italy), we are delighted to have made it to the final."
Philipp Lahm scoring the final last-minute goal
Lahm was the obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award after his last-minute goal but he was a somewhat reluctant recipient of the award after a game in which his side struggled for long spells.
"That I have got the prize for man of the match -- there were others who would have deserved it more," the Bayern Munich left-back said.
Whether he was thinking of his team-mates or opponents was not clear, but it was hard to pick out a German who was at his best on Wednesday night in a semi-final in which a depleted Turkey found time and space in midfield to pose a constant danger.
Loew may well consider revising his tactics for Sunday's final against Russia or Spain, having seen that having an extra man in midfield is no guarantee of dominance in that area of the field if passing and movement is poor. Turkey were often quicker and made better use of the ball.
What got Germany through in the end was the indefatigable ability to keep on going. Instead of letting heads drop after Turkey scored their late equalizer, they responded.
That it was untiring left-back Lahm who still had the willpower and stamina to get forward into the Turkey penalty area to hit the winning goal spoke volumes for both the player and the team. It was, said Loew, part of Germany's winning mentality.
Turkish stars equally deserving of accolades
While Germany goal scorers deserve the praise coming their way, the other top performers were all wearing Turkey's red shirts.
Ugur Boral was a constant thorn in Germany's left side
Hamit Altintop was a driving force in midfield, Kazim Kazim and overlapping right-back Sabri Sarioglu both gave Lahm a hard time, while Ugur Boral, scorer of Turkey's opening goal, also enjoyed a lively game on the left.
Despite the loss of players such as striker Nehit Kahveci, midfielder Emre Belozoglu and defender Servet Cetin through injury, or attacking players like Tuncay Sanli and Arda Turan through suspension, it was Turkey's best performance of the tournament.
Coach Fatih Terim, who is now expected to announce his departure, said he thought Turkey were the better team.
"They were able to show the world what a good team they are. I am proud of them," he said.
The player the coach perhaps most missed was suspended first-choice goalkeeper Volkan Demirel, with veteran keeper Rustu badly at fault in coming out and missing Lahm's cross for Miroslav Klose's header which put Germany 2-1 in front in the 79th minute.
When Semih Senturk squeezed in Turkey's 86th-minute equalizer after Sabri had got past Lahm it looked as if the super-sub goal scorer -- playing from the start this time -- would again be the hero.
But that role was reserved for match-winner Lahm this time around.