By William Wood | In UEFA European Under-21 Championship
England’s hearts were broken as classy Germany cruised to a 4-0 victory in the Under-21 European Championship final, and a deflated Micah gave his thoughts on the defeat exclusively to MicahRichards.com.
Pearce was without the suspended trio of Joe Hart, Fraizer Campbell and Gabriel Agbonlahor for the clash, moving Theo Walcott up-front from the left wing in a lone striking role.
A near-packed stadium in Malmo greeted both sides with a flurry of chants and applause, and Walcott threatened to break the deadlock within minutes of the start when he cruised through the German defence but blasted his shot wide.
Fabrice Muamba conceded a free-kick with ten minutes on the clock, though the wall stood firm to deflect the danger, while moments later Micah regained his footing to make a crucial block.
However, with the Three Lions looking the livelier of the two teams early on it was their opponents who seized the lead, Mesut Ozil capitalising on hesitancy in England’s defence to find Gonzalo Castro who tapped the ball home.
Pearce’s men looked for an immediate response to little avail, Walcott gliding towards the German goal before being tackled, a fate that also greeted James Milner as the Aston Villa midfielder looked to break into the box.
Germany’s tactics were granting England a greater amount of possession but Pearce’s side were struggling to break through a solid backline, and a low tempo half drew to a close with the team in red leading by a solitary goal but looking comfortable.
England would certainly have welcomed the directives offered by Pearce and his coaching staff during the interval, but whatever was said quickly went out the window as Germany doubled their advantage.
Ozil struck a swerving free-kick from 30-yards out which appeared fairly innocuous but as it reached Scott Loach, the young goalkeeper appeared to be wrong-footed by the ball and could only palm it into the centre of the goal to give Germany a 2-0 lead.
With Pearce looking increasingly frustrated on the touchline, Lee Cattermole struck a well-directed, long-range effort which grazed Germany’s crossbar.
Milner then fought his way past two defenders to pull the ball back for Adam Johnson only for Andreas Beck to block his deft flick, and a period of stability followed for Germany as England were stifled in their attempts to push forward.
Ozil, ever the thorn in England’s side, coasted passed Martin Cranie down the right and cut the ball across goal only for Sandro Wagner to fluff his shot a yard out, though Horst Hrubesch only had a minute to wait for Germany to make it three.
With Micah now moved up front by Pearce in a desperate attempt to find a way back into this game, Ozil again burst down the left and through an increasing stretched England defence before laying the ball off to Wagner who, unlike his previous effort, found the target to make it 3-0.
It was another fine effort by Germany which made it four, Wagner evading several challenges to advance on goal before cutting back inside on the edge of the box and curling the ball round Loach seal a clear-cut victory.
It was a disappointing end to what was an otherwise promising European Championship campaign by Pearce and his squad, and Micah will now reflect on what might have been during a short break before he returns for pre-season training with Manchester City.
“We’re all gutted as we thought we had a good chance of winning here, and to lose in the manner that we did hurts even more,” Micah said.
“Full credit to Germany who were the better side on the day and more then deserved the win.