World Cup hopes brought to an end
Sunday, 27 June, 2010
Germany run out comfortable 4-1 winners in Bloemfontein.
Stuart Mawhinney in Bloemfontein
England's World Cup came to an unfortunate end on Sunday, as they succumbed to defeat against Germany in the Second Round in Bloemfontein.
Fabio Capello's team found themselves two goals down in the first half before staging a mini-comeback that was swiftly ended in the second half by Germany's incisive play on the counter attack, soaking up what pressure England could muster before finishing the game off with plenty of time to spare.
Questions will no doubt be asked about a controversial Frank Lampard strike in the first half, which appeared to cross the line, but that shouldn't take away any of the credit from Germany, who were always one step ahead of the Three Lions.
The game started in an understandably subdued style, but the game burst into life after five minutes as England looked to take an early advantage.
First, Wayne Rooney looked to be through on goal only for an offside flag to deny the Manchester United striker. Then from the restart, Mesut Ozil ghosted inside Matthew Upson and Ashley Cole, but David James was alert and repelled the effort.
Germany sprung a rapid counter attack after ten minutes but just as Lukas Podolski pulled the trigger to shoot, John Terry made a superb block to snuff out the danger.
Lampard then saw a powerful free-kick from distance blocked by the German wall, and minutes later England were behind.
It was none other than Miroslav Klose who opened the scoring, outmuscling Upson before just reaching the ball with his toe to prod it past the onrushing James.
Terry looked to lead the recovery, bringing the ball confidently out of defence before finding Rooney on the left flank. The England number ten drove into the centre of the field but his shot was high and wide. Gareth Barry then tested Neuer's handling with a low shot from 25 yards but he made a comfortable save,
James then produced a crucial save as Germany threatened to double their advantage. Ozil and Thomas Mueller combined brilliantly to put Klose in on goal, but the knees of James stopped a second goal.
Minutes later and Germany did make it two, Mueller and Klose sprung the England defence on a swift break and Podolski had all the time in the world to pick his spot. A disaster for England, but it did bring them to life for the remainder of the first half.
From a low cross by James Milner, Lampard came close to reducing the arrears but a combination of Neuer and Lahm was enough to keep the ball out of the net.
England then had the lifeline they needed, when a short corner was played into the area and Upson pulled England back from the death as he rose to bravely head home.
That gave the Three Lions a boost and they ended the first half strongly, leading to the talking point of the game as Lampard thought he had completed a remarkable comeback. He finely lobbed Neuer and the ball undoubtedly bounced over the line. With the linesman stranded 20 yards up field and the referee unable to see it, the goal did not stand and Germany survived.
It was the last meaningful action of a thrilling first 45 minutes, and Germany took a narrow lead into the interval.
Neither side made any changes at the break and it was Steven Gerrard who had the first shot in anger of the second period. Lampard was then denied again, this time by the crossbar, as he crashed a terrific free-kick from more than 30 yards out.
England stepped up the pace on the hour mark and Neuer had to be alert to hold a firm cross from Milner, then Jermain Defoe and Gerrard were somehow halted by slim margins in the penalty area.
Joe Cole came into the game to replace Milner and when he found Rooney, his path was blocked it and was another chance for Lampard to test Neuer.
Unfortunately, the shot struck the wall and from the rebound the Germans sprung a breathtaking counter that gave them what turned out to be a killer third goal. Podolski came inside and fed Mueller, who shot with power and James could not keep it out.
Three minutes later it was four, with the impressive Mueller again on the end of a stunning counter attack, this time led by the pace of Ozil. Gareth Barry couldn't keep up with the German midfielder, and he provided a simple task of tapping the ball into the net and Mueller duly obliged.
That strike killed the game for England, who were left to rue what could have been, but unfortunately wasn't.