Klose 20, Podolski 32, Muller 67,70
England crashed out of the World Cup with a heavy defeat against Germany in Bloemfontein as the calls for goalline technology began in earnest. Goals from Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and a Thomas Muller double ended English dreams but there was controversy when Frank Lampard’s shot bounced clearly over the line but was ruled out. The goal would have levelled the scores at 2-2, coming a minute after Matt Upson had scored for England.
Mesut Ozil could have scored as early as the fifth minute, getting in behind the England defence but seeing David James save with his knee. Germany were ahead after 20 minutes through Klose. Manuel Neuer’s goalkick bounced past the English centre-backs and Klose outmuscled Upson and poked the ball past James. Klose came close to doubling the lead after half an hour but James saved with his legs after Muller had slipped the striker through. It was 2-0 two minutes later when Podolski fired through James’ legs from a tight angle. Klose had dinked the ball over the top for Muller who squared the bouncing ball to the unmarked Podolski. England pulled a goal back after 37 minutes through Upson. Steven Gerrard crossed after a short corner and Upson rose six yards out to head home. Lampard had a goal ruled out a minute later, his 20 yard shot hitting the bar and bouncing well over the line in the view of everyone bar the officials. As England protested, Podolski went straight down the other end and fired just wide.
Lampard rattled the woodwork again after 52 minutes from a 35 yard freekick. Around the hour mark, Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger both shot just wide within minutes of each other and after 67 minutes Germany were three up. England wasted a freekick 30 yards out and the Germans broke at pace. Schweinsteiger played in Muller and he hammered home via James’ elbow. Three minutes later and the game was over after another lightning German break. Ozil burst down the left and squared for Muller to finish with ease for his second and Germany’s fourth. Gerrard came close to pulling a goal back for England after he worked himself free in the box but Neuer palmed the ball around the post with 10 minutes remaining.
The debate will rage about goalline technology just months after FIFA said they had ended any plans to have it implemented. When Lampard’s shot bounced over the line, it took a matter of seconds for television replays to confirm what everyone had seen. Whilst technology will not solve every close call, as seen by the failure to prove conclusively whether Geoff Hurst’s 1966 goal was over the line or not, it would definitely have seen a goal confirmed with just one replay on this occasion. England may have been a poor second to the Germans before Lampard struck but it may well have been a different game afterwards had England been level after two goals in a minute. Accusations of sour grapes will no doubt come back in reply to the English outrage, but the decision was so obviously wrong that the protests began long before the Germans had killed off the game.
England must take a lot of the blame for their exit after a simply shocking performance. Time and again Germany were able to carve England up at will, with the defence looking like a bunch of amateur strangers. The first goal was ridiculously easy for Klose to score, with Upson and John Terry in baffling positions and neither dealing with a routine long kick up field from Neuer. The remaining three goals were all a result of England leaving men unmarked at the back post, failing to get back in numbers as the Germans threw men forward. Fabio Capello opted to go with the same team that beat Slovenia as a statement of confidence but there had been worries over Upson before the match and they were confirmed on the pitch. Terry did not look comfortable playing on the right side of the centre-back pairing and even Ashley Cole who had previously been England’s best player at the World Cup went missing frequently.
It was rumoured before the crucial win over Slovenia on Wednesday that Capello would be on his way if England crashed out in the group stage. There is every reason to assume that will still be the case after England bowed out one game later in a style every bit as abysmal as going out earlier in the week would have been. Capello has been deified in his two and a half years in the job, a man who could do no wrong. He has failed the real test when it mattered, with baffling decisions on squad selection, team selection, substitutions and tactics. Any manager who knows the English game would never even consider bringing on Emile Heskey when you need to find three goals to stay in a tournament. That was the last in a long line of strange calls from Capello who must shoulder the responsibility for his team’s abject failure.
For Germany, there is yet another quarter-final to look forward to, having reached at least that stage of the World Cup every time since their victory in 1954. The Germans were not among the highly fancied teams coming into the World Cup but they have demonstrated a ruthless edge that many felt was missing by putting England to the sword in style. The counter-attacking was breathless, utilising the pace and energy of their youthful team. Germany could have been four or five up at half time but for the saves of James, and they did not let up after being let off the hook by the decision over Lampard’s goal. The defence still does not totally convince, but they have a solid midfield in Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira and inventiveness and incisiveness in attack. The better team won and the World Cup dream is still very much alive in Germany.
Germany – Neuer, Friedrich, Lahm, Mertesacker, Boateng, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil (Kiessling 83), Podolski, Klose (Gomez 82), Muller (Trochowski 72)
England – James, Johnson (Wright-Phillips 87), A Cole, Terry, Upson, Gerrary, Lampard, Barry, Milner (J Cole 63), Rooney, Defoe (Heskey 71)