Germany rip England apart

BLOEMFONTEIN - Germany put on a superb display to thrash England 4-1 and move into the World Cup last eight, leaving their long-standing rivals bemoaning a decision to rule out an equaliser which they say cost them the game.

Thomas Muller scored twice as Germany's young side overwhelmed a sloppy defence on Sunday with some sublime counter-attacking to dish out England's biggest ever defeat in the World Cup finals.

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"It was a grandiose performance by our young team against a very good, experienced England team," said delighted Germany coach Joachim Low, who has put together Germany's youngest squad in 76 years with an average age of 25.

"It was first class and a lot of fun to watch."

However, there were no smiles on the England bench when a Uruguayan referee, Jorge Larrionda, took centre stage in a dramatic game which justified its pre-match billing.

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Trailing 2-1 late in the first half, England midfielder Frank Lampard struck a shot from 20 metres out which hit the bar, dropped a metre behind the line, then bounced up and hit the bar again before it was gathered by keeper Manuel Neuer.

It was clearly a goal and made an ironic comparison with Geoff Hurst's disputed goal in the 1966 final between England and West Germany final which England won.

In that game 44 years ago, England were awarded a third goal to put them ahead 3-2 in extra time even though there is still no clear proof even today that it crossed the line. England went on to win 4-2.

"It is incredible," England coach Fabio Capello said of the referee's decision on Sunday.

"The game would probably have been different after this goal ... I think (it was) the mistake of the linesman, but also I think the referee," Capello added, saying he would not resign as England boss after the heavy defeat.

But England can have little complaints over the course of the game at the Free State Stadium, as a German side spearheaded by Muller and 32-year-old Miroslav Klose picked England apart. The English defence looked particularly sluggish.

"We had some luck and took the lead. After we went 3-1 up, we improved and the match was soon over after that," Mueller said.

DEFENCE NAPPING

In a frantic first half, Germany took a deserved 2-0 lead with some high-paced play.

Klose snatched the lead in the 20th minute, catching the English defence napping and chasing down German keeper Neuer's deep goal kick to slot home his 12th goal in World Cup tournaments.

Striker Lukas Podolski struck again in the 32nd minute with a fierce low drive after a combination of passes via Mueller and Mesut Ozil to give them a two-goal cushion.

Matthew Upson cut the deficit in the 37th minute, heading in a Steven Gerrard cross, with Neuer completely missing the ball, and just a minute later, Lampard fired in his shot only for the referee to wave play on.

England came out fighting in the second half and hit the bar again with a fierce Lampard free kick seven minutes after the restart but Mueller ended their hopes with two goals in three minutes to cap a memorable performance for the youngster.

Germany now face Argentina or Mexico in the quarter-finals, while England, once among the favourites, go home after a poor campaign in which striker Wayne Rooney failed to live up to expectations and they struggled against supposedly lesser sides.

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