Joachim Low’s side built a two-goal lead through early goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski and although Matthew Upson reduced the deficit before the break, the Germans made sure of their quarter-final place when Thomas Muller concluded two lightning breakaways with a quick-fire double midway through the second half. While Germany can look forward with confidence to a quarter-final meeting with Argentina or Mexico, England will go home to lick their wounds and reflect on yet another FIFA World Cup defeat by their old nemesis.
It was a lapse of concentration which allowed Germany to take the lead in the 20th minute, the goal coming after a spell of prolonged England possession. Manuel Neuer’s long goal-kick upfield should have been dealt with by England’s central defenders, but Klose got between John Terry and Upson, outmuscling the latter before poking the ball past James with his outstretched right boot.
While having plenty of the ball, England were creating little in the way of genuine scoring opportunities, with only a Gareth Barry shot from distance which went straight at Neuer. Indeed, Germany should have doubled their advantage on the half-hour when Sami Khedira combined well with Muller to set up Klose, who fired straight at James. Yet Die Nationalelf did not have to wait too long for their second goal when Muller floated a delightful ball into the path of the unmarked Podolski. With England’s defence stretched, the Cologne man had the time to recover from a poor first touch and produce a left-footed finish that squeezed through the legs of the goalkeeper and just inside the far post.
England pulled a goal back in the 37th minute when a short Lampard corner from the right was played to Gerrard who crossed into the box. Upson, atoning for his earlier error, rose highest above the Germany defence and with Neuer stranded, powered a header into the net. Meetings between these two sides often provide talking points and this one’s came 60 seconds after Upson’s goal when Lampard’s shot from the edge of the box struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down, with the referee ruling the ball had not crossed the goalline.
England started the second half strongly with Gerrard hitting a right foot shot just wide in the opening minutes and Lampard rattling the crossbar with a free-kick 30 yards from goal. However, Germany increased their advantage in the 67th minute through a counter-attack. Lampard’s free-kick hit the German wall and with England having committed men forward, they were left exposed as Schweinsteiger broke quickly before playing a delightful ball for Muller, who had started the breakaway, to fire past James.
Germany’s fourth was more or less a carbon copy of their third. With England deep in their opponents’ half, searching for a way back into the game, Germany won possession on the edge of their box and sprayed the ball to Ozil on the left. The midfielder outpaced Barry and played in Muller to sidefoot home from close range. England, to their credit, never gave up and only a fine one-handed save by Neuer from Gerrard stopped them from reducing their deficit – the heaviest in their FIFA World Cup history.
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