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Germany reacted with disappointment after being beaten by England in a nail-biting and historic final at Wembley.

“A hundred and twenty minutes of pure passion and pure struggle weren’t enough today,” tweeted the official account of the German team, after their 2-1 defeat. “Respect and congratulations to the Lionesses.”

After an unbeaten run in the Women’s Euro finals that had garnered eight trophies was broken, the team tweeted: “Sad … proud.”

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Their loss was played in front of a sell-out crowd that included the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, reported by German media to be on his first visit to Wembley.

Annalena Baerbock congratulated the Lionesses on Twitter, adding that the German team had “made us all very proud”. Germany’s foreign minister, who had teased her British counterpart Liz Truss earlier in the day, said the German team’s disappointment may be immeasurable, but they had won many new fans with their dedication and team spirit.

Not everyone was so calm. German tabloid Bild declared: “We are cheated again,” claiming that the referee had allowed the English team to get away with a handball in the 25th minute of the game. The newspaper website praised the team for “putting a smile on our faces” in times of war in Ukraine, energy crisis and inflation. The Süddeutsche Zeitung said England were the “deserved” champions.

Germany started the game on the back foot, after team captain and top goal scorer Alexandra Popp was forced to pull out because of a muscle problem in the warm-up. She had scored in every game of the campaign and was a rival to England’s Beth Mead for the golden boot, prompting a German satirical magazine to write that the men’s team coach was considering calling up “Alexander” Popp for the World Cup in November 2022.

Germany booked their place in Sunday’s historic game after edging past France in the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory, following a highly charged meeting with their German-speaking neighbours Austria in the quarter-finals. But in the end it wasn’t to be for the nation that pioneered women’s football, but has faced growing competition from increasingly professional sides, including France, Spain – and England.

Before Sunday’s match, Germany’s coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, had said the “dream” final was a chance to take the sport to the next level. “Something has to continue. This has to be a chance for all the countries to make the next steps for women’s football. If not now, when will this happen?”