Let that patriotic fervor soar. Host nation Germany is headed to the quarterfinals at the European Championship after a wet and wild win over Denmark on Saturday. “We’re going to Berlin,” sang the jubilant Germany fans who were first battered by rain and hail after a thunderstorm that stopped play for 25 minutes, then saw their team benefit from back-to-back video review calls that helped to set up a 2-0 victory in Dortmund.

Germany’s midfielder Jamal Musiala celebrates scoring.(AFP)

Two more wins will take Germany to the capital for the July 14 final, in what could yet turn into a summer fairy tale for a nation whose soccer team is coming out of a sorry run of performances in major tournaments.

It could have been so different against the Danes, though.

The host-nation buzz was burst when, with the score at 0-0, Denmark defender Joachim Andersen swept home a close-range finish that looked to have put his team ahead in the 50th minute. The Video Assistant Referee spotted an offside in the buildup, a free kick was awarded and the ball was played downfield immediately, leading to a cross by David Raum hitting the outstretched right arm of — who else? — Andersen.

The VAR got involved again and a penalty was awarded. Kai Havertz converted the spot kick and Jamal Musiala added a second goal — his third of the tournament, which is tied for the most with Georgia’s Georges Mikautadze — in the 68th.

“We played a super game — we had crazy fans again today,” Germany defender Nico Schlotterbeck said. “We’re playing with euphoria, we’re playing with fun, and that’s what the most beautiful thing about football is.”

It was Germany’s first win in the knockout stage of a major tournament since 2016, since when the national team has failed to advance from the group stage at back-to-back World Cups and lost in the last 16 of the last Euros in 2021 to England.

Germany will play Spain or Georgia next and became the second team to advance from the round of 16, after Switzerland beat defending champion Italy 2-0 earlier Saturday.

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann told German broadcaster ZDF that he used the rain delay to show his players incidents from the first half-hour of the game which his team dominated, playing the most soccer of the tournament, in his opinion.

Indeed, the players were able to head into the confines of the locker room while thunder, lightning and torrential rain struck, leaving spectators in the front rows particularly exposed as they scrambled higher in the stands. Many used black-yellow-and-red flags they had waved before the match, to welcome the players onto the field, as makeshift umbrellas.

“Oh, how lovely it is,” some sang, and a few Danish supporters danced in waterfalls in the stands.

There was about a 20-minute delay before the rain relented and players re-emerged, undertaking warmups before play resumed a few minutes later. The pitch held up well in the circumstances. Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand was left to rue those crucial couple of minutes when the big VAR decisions were made.

“I have the photo here,” he said, whipping out his phone at the post-match news conference. “It was one centimeter (offside). In terms of statistics and data, it doesn’t makes sense. This is not how we are supposed to be using VAR.

“And I am so tired of the ridiculous handball rule. Joachim was running normally. It’s a normal situation.”

Nagelsmann sympathized with Hjulmand, saying: “I would also be annoyed if it was the other way round.”

However, it’s Denmark going home and Germany heading to Stuttgart on Friday. “It was a wild game altogether,” Nagelsmann said.

“We came through adversity in those seconds where it was, ‘Was it a goal or not a goal?’ and ‘Was it handball or not a handball?’ That makes me proud. The team deserves it and hopefully we are getting rid of the old memory stick and understand how good we actually are.”

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024