Greek fans did not expect their side to overcome Germany in Friday's European Championship quarter-final, a match so heavy in political and economic significance it was billed in Athens as the "mother of all games" and in Berlin as the "ultimate euro stress test". But the sight of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, cheering each of her side's goals in their 4-2 victory pushed some Greeks to their own personal brink.
"It really bothered me the way she cheered her team – I really did not like that, and 99.9% of Greeks didn't," said Yiannis Chremos, one of hundreds who poured into Athens's ancient Plaka district beneath the Acropolis to watch the match on television screens outside cafes and bars.
Chremos, who works for a German-run human resource company, added: "It is not just because of her policies in Greece, it's her policies all over Europe – they're wrong, simply wrong."
It was difficult to separate events on the pitch in Gdansk, Poland, with the eurozone crisis and fears over Greece's future in the currency.
Greeks sat six rows deep in public squares to catch the game, with one banner before kickoff reading, "Greece from the gods, Germany from Merkel".
Any enthusiasm in Athens quickly ebbed away, however, as Germany dominated from the start. And even though Greece threatened a huge upset by equalising in the second half, Germany put their foot down and advanced to the semi-finals of the tournament.
"I found it heartbreaking although expected," said another Greek fan, Despina Miliadou. "It was good we scored our second goal – at least we lost with dignity."
As the cafes and bars emptied after the final whistle and a numbness descended on the city, Chremos said: "We Greeks believe in miracles; we went in hoping for one, just as we hope there will be a miracle that will get us out of our country's crisis."
Across Germany, from the north in Heringsdorf on the Baltic coast to Freiburg in the south, Germans came out en masse and in style to watch the quarter-final.
Car workers at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg were allowed to finish the evening shift two hours early to catch the game.
Merkel herself had persuaded Italy's prime minister, Mario Monti, to bring forward a eurozone crisis summit in Rome so she could attend the match.
Merkel sat next to Michel Platini, the president of Uefa, not any Greek politicians.
At a public viewing park in Potsdam just outside Berlin, fans stopped sipping beers to roar with laughter when a bespectacled Merkel was shown on screen impersonating a Greek drummer she had spotted in the crowd.
The centralised television footage vetted any controversial images of protesting Greeks, but on Twitter some of the less generous sentiments were aired, such as, "We'll bankrupt you now, Germany", from a Greek contingent, or "There's no saving you now, Greece", from a German.
Despite the many attempts by coaches, players, politicians and Uefa to dismiss the political symbolism of the match, as crowds streamed to the Lindenpark to watch the game under sweet-smelling lime trees, that undertone – amid the backdrop of the Eurozone bailouts – could be felt even among a group of 14 year old schoolchildren celebrating the start of their summer break.
"We're just getting more and more drawn into their economic mess the more we help to bail them out," Jochen Schmied said.
After the game, Annette Zill, a psychoanalyst, said: "I'm glad the Greeks got those two goals at least. It felt less like we were slaughtering them."
But the 45-year-old added: "I had thought I could separate the sport and the politics, that is, until Merkel decided to turn up. Her very presence made the event a political one."
And at the final whistle, convoys of cars drove in victory parades down the main streets across the country's cities, hooting their horns and flying German flags out of the windows in celebration.