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September 22, 2017

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Joy, fireworks as Berlin celebrates after World Cup thriller

BERLIN -- Germany erupted in ecstasy Sunday, with fans dancing the night away, after the World Cup final win against Argentina that handed the country its historic fourth title.

Fireworks exploded across Berlin as delirious supporters cheering the 1-0 victory thronged the streets and honking cars snaked their way through crowds, with black, red and gold German flags flapping in the wind.

More than 250,000 fans jumped for joy in the heart of the capital, many singing "Oh, it's beautiful!" and chanting "Super Deutschland."

"We're going to party all night," said Bianca Hoffmann, 35, who traveled to Berlin from the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia to join in the country's biggest World Cup gathering.

The city closed the so-called Fan Mile to traffic behind the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of national unity, to make way for revelers basking in the German side's glory in its thrilling showdown against Argentina.

"This victory is hugely important — it's my first!" said Carsten Glaser, 20.

While the Germans were a "team," he said, "Argentina only had (Lionel) Messi."

On nearby Potsdamer Platz, cleaved in two by the despised Berlin Wall until its fall a quarter-century ago, one young man jumped on the roof of a public bus as raucous supporters blocked streets for traffic.

And on the chic shopping avenue Kurfuerstendamm in the west of the capital, traditionally a venue for major sports celebrations, fans set off firecrackers and waved giant flags.

Many supporters saw the victory as having a deeper historical resonance, coming a long 24 years after West Germany beat Argentina in 1990, just months before the country overcame its Cold War division.

"This victory is important for reunified Germany," Thorsten Kinscher, a 34-year-old employee in the shipping industry, said.

"It shows we are really in this together," behind a team of players from the former west and the ex-communist east, he said.

Crowds surpassed the announced 200,000 maximum capacity on the Fan Mile hours before the match, an event spokeswoman said.

Braving intermittent showers, vendors did a booming business in currywurst, a local speciality of sausage smothered in spicy ketchup, and plastic cups of beer.

Millions more huddled in front of screens at beer gardens, bars, sports clubs and sitting rooms across the country to watch the match from Rio de Janeiro's legendary Maracana stadium.

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