Germany put on a superb display to thrash England 4-1 and move into the World Cup last eight, leaving their long-standing rivals bemoaning a decision to rule out an equalizer which they say cost them the game.
Thomas Mueller scored twice as Germany’s young side overwhelmed a sloppy defense on Sunday with some sublime counterattacking to dish out England’s biggest ever defeat in the World Cup finals.
“It was a grandiose performance by our young team against a very good, experienced England team,” said delighted Germany coach Joachim Loew, who has put together Germany’s youngest squad in 76 years with an average age of 25. “It was first class and a lot of fun to watch.”
However, there were no smiles on the England bench when Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda took center stage in a dramatic game that justified its pre-match billing.
Trailing 2-1 late in the first half, England midfielder Frank Lampard struck a shot from 20m out which hit the bar, dropped a meter behind the line, then bounced up and hit the bar again before it was gathered by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
It was clearly a goal and made an ironic comparison with Geoff Hurst’s disputed goal in the 1966 final between England and West Germany which England won.
In that game 44 years ago, England were awarded a third goal to put them ahead 3-2 in extra-time, even though there is still no clear proof even today that it crossed the line. England went on to win 4-2.
“It is incredible,” England coach Fabio Capello said of the referee’s decision.
“The game would probably have been different after this goal ... I think [it was] the mistake of the linesman, but also I think the referee,” Capello added, saying he would not resign as England boss after the heavy defeat.
England can have few complaints over the course of the game at the Free State Stadium, though, as a Germany side spearheaded by Mueller and 32-year-old Miroslav Klose picked England apart. The English defense looked particularly sluggish.
“We had some luck and took the lead. After we went 3-1 up, we improved and the match was soon over after that,” Mueller said.
In a frantic first half, Germany took a deserved 2-0 lead with some high-paced play. Klose snatched the lead in the 20th minute, catching the English defense napping and chasing down Neuer’s deep goal-kick to slot home his 12th goal in World Cup tournaments.
Striker Lukas Podolski struck again in the 32nd minute with a fierce low drive after a combination of passes between Mueller and Mesut Ozil to give them a two-goal cushion.
Matthew Upson cut the deficit in the 37th minute, heading in a Steven Gerrard cross, with Neuer completely missing the ball, and just a minute later, Lampard fired in his shot only for the referee to wave play on.
England came out fighting in the second half and hit the bar again with a fierce Lampard free-kick seven minutes after the restart, but Mueller ended their hopes with two goals in three minutes to cap a memorable performance for the youngster.
Germany now face Argentina in the quarter-finals, while England, once among the favorites, go home after a poor campaign in which striker Wayne Rooney failed to live up to expectations and they struggled against supposedly lesser sides.