Noble's dream dashed

Mark Noble's dream of emulating West Ham United great Bobby Moore by leading England to a major trophy was dashed on Monday night.

A shade under 43 years after Moore captained England to the FIFA World Cup by beating West Germany at Wembley, skipper Noble's Under-21s were beaten 4-0 by their unified successors in the UEFA European U21 Championship final in Sweden.

Defeat dashed Noble's hopes of ending his U21 career, which began at the same tournament two years ago, on a high.

Just as had happened in 1966, the Germans took a first half lead, but this time there was to be no comeback from the English.

While Moore and West Ham team-mates Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were able to celebrate lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy, Noble and Hammers colleague James Tomkins - an unused substitute in Malmo - were left with only loser's medals to show for their efforts.

Hurst and Peters were the match-winners back in 1966, but it was Werder Bremen's Mesut Ozil who was the hero in the latest battle between two of football's oldest rivals.

The opening goal arrived in the 23rd minute when Gonzalo Castro raced past Martin Cranie before clipping Ozil's through-ball past the advancing Scott Loach.

Despite completing more than twice as many passes as their opponents in the opening half-hour, England could not conjure a clear-cut opening, while the Germans were more incisive in their attacking play.

It was a mistake from stand-in goalkeeper Loach - only in the side due to regular No1 Joe Hart being suspended after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament during England's semi-final penalty shoot-out victory over Sweden - that handed Germany a two-goal lead.

There appeared little danger when Ozil lined up a 35 yard free-kick just three minutes into the second period, but Loach was wrong-footed by the midfielder's swerving effort and allowed the ball to dribble into the net.

Stuart Pearce's side, missing suspended forwards Fraizer Campbell and Gabriel Agbonlahor, tried hard to force their way back into the final, but the former West Ham left-back was to suffer heartache at the hands of the Germans for the third time in his career. Pearce was on the losing side when England lost to West Germany at the 1990 World Cup and the unified Germany at Euro 1996, both on penalties.

Lee Cattermole clipped the crossbar with a rasping drive on the hour-mark before Adam Johnson was denied by a goal-line block from Andreas Beck. The Hoffenheim full-back was in the right place again to keep out Cattermole's header with 19 minutes remaining.

Germany, coached by Euro 1980 match-winner Horst Hrubesch, extended their lead when Sandro Wagner fired Ozil's pass through Loach's legs on 79 minutes. The MSV Duisburg striker added a fine fourth with a curling shot five minutes later to cap the Germans' first European U21 Championship triumph.