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FIFA World Cup: Germany destroy England 4-1; romp into the Quarter Finals

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thomas_muller.jpgGermany got the better of old rivals England in a pulsating round of 16 encounter in the FIFA World Cup, winning by a convincing margin of 4-1. The team from Deutschland ran the England team ragged with their great movement and slick passing for the opening 30-35 minutes where they bagged two well taken goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski. England, to their credit didn't drop their heads and replied almost immediately with a headed goal from Matthew Upson. Frank Lampard then seemed to equalize moments later; only for the assistant referee to fail to spot the ball crossing the goal line by a good foot and a half. The shocker of a decision saw England go into the break a goal behind.

The second half saw England start on the front foot with Frank Lampard coming close again, this time with a thumping free kick that cannoned off the bar. However, two slick counter attacking moves left the English players for dead as Thomas Muller capped both off with fine finishes. It was a superb win for the young Germans under Joachim Loew who outpaced and outpassed a strong English outfit with ruthless precision. They are now up against the winner of Argentina-Mexico duel (to be played later in the day) in the quarter final on Saturday, 3rd July. England on the other hand ended their campaign on a whimper; yet another ‘under performing' English side knocked out of the World Cup. Perhaps the tag ‘paper tigers' labelled by a certain section of the German media was an apt description of England's quality all over the pitch.

The old Enemies - England and Germany - clashed today at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein in a bid to reach the quarter final stage of the FIFA World Cup. The two heavyweights of world football locked horns in a battle that was expected to set the tournament alight with the heavy ammunition present on either side. While England had players of the calibre of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard; the Germans boasted of Lukas Podolski, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Oezil to counter the English stars. Perhaps it was rightly pointed out by German legend Franz Beckenbauer - "A game like this should be a semi final and not a last 16."

England for the first time in this tournament named an unchanged line up, while Germany made only one change as Miroslav Klose came back from suspension to replace the injured Cacau. The Germans were relieved to find talismanic midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in the line-up, after apprehensions regarding his participation owing to a thigh strain.

england_germany1.jpgGermany got the first shot on goal in the 5th minute when the impressive Mesut Oezil got behind Ashley Cole but his shot from a rather acute angle from his decidedly weaker right foot  was saved by 39-year old David James in the England goal. England on their part kept possession well but their ploy of releasing Rooney and Defoe through with aerial balls certainly wasn't working. The Germans got the lead in the 20th minute when the ever reliable John Terry misjudged the flight of the ball from a goal kick from Neuer; Miroslav Klose then did the rest shrugging off a challenge from Matthew Upson and finishing coolly, leaving the onrushing James with no chance. The goal was just rewards for the Germans who had passed the ball around well and had closed down the England players to make life difficult for them.

England tried to up the tempo and Gareth Barry got their first shot on target in the 25th minute; but Neuer saved the attempt without much fuss. The Germans though were relentless as they fought for every inch of turf with their ‘old rivals'. Klose came close to getting a 2nd goal in the 31st minute with an awesome German move featuring Sami Khedira and Thomas Muller; the goal scorer though couldn't get the better of David James this time around. The second goal though came 2 minutes later when Lukas Podolski drilled in a shot as the England defence was totally torn to shreds by yet another slick German move.

frank_lampard.jpgEngland attempted to reply immediately, but Lampard's tap-in from close range was blocked by Neuer. Matthew Upson then narrowed the gap between the two teams when he headed in a Steven Gerrard cross into the back of the net in the 37th minute. The English then equalized a minute later with a sumptuous lob from Lampard; however, things took an ugly turn for the men in red as the assistant referee on the far side failed to spot the ball cross the line. Replays though showed the ball to have hit the underside of the bar and bounced a foot and a half inside the goal - clearly a stinker of a decision in such a big game. It was perhaps divine redemption for the Germans, who still debate about the famous Geoff Hurst goal in the 1966 World Cup Final - the ball had struck the underside of the bar and the assistant referee gave the goal despite replays suggesting otherwise.

Seconds later Germany almost had a third with Podolski's powerful drive after another incisive German move going narrowly wide. Half time came soon after with the England players rightfully aggrieved about going into the break a goal behind. For sure, the need for a video referral technology would be debated about in the days to come; and perhaps it needed a game of this magnitude to force football to adapt to the real world.

The Second half needed a fresh approach from the England players. They had reaped the rewards of upping the tempo in the last 10 minutes of the opening period and needed to stick to it for the rest of the game to entertain any hopes of making a comeback into the match. Frank Lampard started from where he left off in the first half when he struck a thunderous free kick in the 52nd minute as the ball cannoned off the cross bar to relative safety. Back up the other end, Muller almost punished the England defence for backing off too far with a toe poke at the hour mark which went narrowly wide of the post.

England had started well and looked a kick or two away from getting the equalizer. Their passing had improved considerably and Wayne Rooney was finally getting some touches on the ball and carving out a chance or two for his team mates. Joe Cole was brought on for James Milner as Fabio Capello looked for a creative spark to unlock the German defence. However, the men in Red were given a harsh reality check in the 67th minute when Thomas Muller capped a fine counter attack with a thumping finish.

muller_khedira.jpgAnd now the significance of the disallowed goal took on epic proportions as the need for two goals forced England to camp in the German half. The English were in no mood to learn their lessons though as Muller capped yet another counter attacking master class lead by Mesut Oezil with a simple tap-in to make the score 4-1 in favour of the Germans.

Gerrard looked for some a consolation prize but Manuel Neuer came out with a cracking save to keep the score line at 4-1. The final whistle blew soon after as the England players trudged off the field after yet another below par performance on the biggest stage in world football. Incidentally, this was their worst ever defeat in the World Cup finals. The Germans on the other hand, walked off the park knowing all too well that they had made a strong statement of intent and it was now up to the other big guns to come up with an answer.

The inquest for the England team will surely be on overdrive in the coming weeks. The lackadaisical performance from the big names - who slaughter opponents week-in week-out in the Premier League - was a major reason for their debacle; a case in point being Chelsea's Mr Dependable John Terry whose misjudgement gifted Klose the opening goal and Germany, the early fillip. The poster boy of English football Wayne Rooney had a terrible World Cup, finishing with nothing to show for his trip to South Africa. The World Cup may have seen the last of a majority of England's big guns - Lampard, Gerrard and Terry - whose final foray into the biggest stage is imminently forgettable.

Teams:

Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Lahm, Boateng, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil (Kiessling 82'), Podolski, Klose (Gomez 72'), Muller (Trochowski 72')

England: James, Terry, Upson, Cole, Johnson (Wright Phillips 86'), Barry, Lampard, Gerrard, Milner (Joe Cole 64'), Rooney, Defoe (Heskey 71')

Germany 4-1 England
Klose (Germany) 20'
Podolski (Germany) 32'
Upson (England) 37'
Muller (Germany) 67', 70'

Also Read: Argentina 3-1 Mexico - Match Report

Photo by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa

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