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World Cup 2010: Germany thrash dismal England

June 27, 2010

England's Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe contemplate Lucas Podolski's strike that made it 2-0 to Germany. Photograph: Tom Jenkins

Germany 4-1 (HT 2-1) England
Klose, 20
Podolski, 32
Muller, 67, 70
Upson, 37

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Att: 40,510

Germany handed England their worst ever World Cup defeat thanks to comical defending and a refereeing blunder that prevented Fabio Capello’s side making the score 2-2 just before half-time.

Despite the injustice of Frank Lampard’s strike not being rewarded with a goal – the ball cannoned down off the crossbar and clearly crossed the line before bouncing out – the ‘Golden Generation’ were outclassed in every department by a German side full of endeavour and inventive running.

Had Joachim Low’s young side taken half of the chances England’s defence presented them with, they could have scored seven or eight.

Admittedly, things could have turned out differently had the referee allowed Lampard’s ‘goal’ – eerily similar to Geoff Hurst’s second at Wembley in 1966 – less than a minute after England made the score 2-1 but, in truth, that equaliser would have been harsh on Germany.

Playing with a packed midfield and the dangerous lone striker Miroslav Klose, Germany’s passing game revolved around the steel of Bastian Schweinsteiger and the ingenuity of Mesut Ozil. They repeatedly took a woeful England defence apart with ease.

Klose gave his side a deserved lead after twenty minutes when he latched onto goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s long goal kick – John Terry and Upson were both caught out of position – and stabbed the ball past David James.

Ten minutes later Podolski doubled Germany’s advantage after more abysmal English defending. Terry and Upson were nowhere to be seen as Klose sent Thomas Mueller scampering through. His square ball found the Cologne striker who had time to take a bad first touch before rifling the ball underneath James.

England’s forward play throughout was deeply disappointing – Wayne Rooney was especially anonymous – and they rarely threatened a suspect German defence.

They did pull a goal back thanks to a set-piece when Upson rose highest to head in a Steven Gerrard cross. And England should have been level less that a minute later thanks to Lampard’s shot. Surely this game will signal the introduction of goal-line technology to top class football.

England pushed forward in the second-half in search of a breakthrough that would restore parity but a Frank Lampard free-kick that hit the bar was about as good as it got.

Their gung-ho approach left them vulnerable to the counter-attack and they were demolished accordingly twice. Muller applied the finishing touch to two devastating thrusts through England’s paper-thin defence to put the game out of reach.

For Germany, the ghosts of 1966 and the phantom goal that defeated them at Wembley were exorcised, in an exhilarating defeat of their tormentors that day.

For England, there is introspection and a multitude of questions. Why did Fabio Capello not get the best out of England’s players? Why were his tactics so antiquated and inflexible? Why did Wayne Rooney perform like a shadow of his Manchester United self?

Most importantly, why were England – with all the star players – so markedly inferior to a young and inexperienced Germany?

Dark days lie ahead.

Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Friedrich, Mertesacker, Boateng, Schweinsteiger, Khedira, Muller (Trochowski 72), Ozil (Kiessling 83), Podolski, Klose (Gomez 72). Subs Not Used: Wiese, Jansen, Aogo, Tasci, Badstuber, Cacau, Kroos, Marin, Butt.
Booked: Friedrich.

England: James, Johnson (Wright-Phillips 87), Terry, Upson, Ashley Cole, Milner (Joe Cole 63), Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Defoe (Heskey 71), Rooney. Subs Not Used: Green, Dawson, Lennon, Crouch, Warnock, Carragher, King, Carrick, Hart.
Booked: Johnson.

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