Joe Makes History In Germany

Joe Cole gave the England seniors a welcome boost ahead of the big game in Munich by claiming a slice of English football history in Germany last night.

Hammers' talented young midfielder set England under-21s on their way to a 2-1 win at Freiburg with a brilliant second half goal in the 56th minute that paved the way for the visitors' first-ever victory on German territory at this level.

The Germans, who remain group leaders, thought they had saved themselves with a headed equaliser in time added on - but Arsenal's Francis Jeffers stunned the local fans at the Dreisar stadium by firing home the winner in the 93rd minute, after excellent approach work by another Hammer, 70th minute substitute Jermain Defoe, and Fulham's Sean Davis.

Joe had left the field by then, making way for Charlton Athletic's Scott Parker with 15 minutes remaining, but the West Ham star had already left his mark with another outstanding performance.

Wearing the coveted white No.10 shirt, Joe started the move that led to his goal when he played a clever one-two in midfield, ran on and evaded two German challenges before calmly slotting the ball into the far corner of the net with a measured side-footed shot that oozed quality.

Sky Sports TV summariser Chris Kamara purred: 'All the true bits of class tonight came from Joe Cole and his goal was beautiful to watch.'

Cole turned on the style, running at bewildered opponents in green who were glad to see him rested as England boss David Platt attempted to shut up shop in the closing stages of a match his side had to win to keep alive their qualifying hopes in group nine.

On this form, a recall to the senior squad cannot be too far away for Joe. In the meantime Platt will be looking to the Hammer to turn it on again as England continue their bid for a play-off place when they host Albania next Tuesday (Sept 4), followed by what should be a decisive final qualifier at home to Greece on October 5.

Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland under-21s saw their fading hopes of qualification for the European Championship finals extinguished last night at Waterford, where they were held to a creditable 1-1 draw by Holland.

Hammers' promising left-back Shaun Byrne played all of the first half before manager Don Givens replaced him at half-time with Alan Quinn, but no further goals were added.