Monday, June 28, 2010

389. Germany Demolishes England 4-1

So much for a rivalry. Germany made certain just who the better soccer club was Sunday by sending England off the pitch hanging their heads and on the bitter end of a 4-1 defeat in the first round of the knockout rounds of the 2010 World Cup. England controlled the tempo early on but could not overcome some precise ball movement from Germany and an unrewarded goal as Germany asserted themselves as the top team for at least one day.

Germany struck first blood when Miroslav Klose, who missed Germany's 1-0 victory over Ghana due to suspension, made his impact. Klose nudged the ball past England goalkeeper David James twenty minutes in. the score brought Klose three goals away from a tie for the all-time World Cup scoring record, held by Ronaldo of Brazil. Klose had made it clear that he intended to at least tie the record during this World Cup.

Miroslav Klose slots in Germany's first in the 20th minute

Twelve minutes later Lukas Podolski scored an incredible goal at a very tough angle, just barely hitting the far corner of the goal to put Germany up 2-0. England was quick to respond with a goal of their own, coming from Matthew Upson on a header roughly five minutes later. Then controversy took center stage as England's Frank Lampard kicked a ball off the cross bar of the German goal. The ball landed behind the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and should have been a clear goal to tie the match (more on this goal below), but the refs failed to see where the ball landed. With no video replay system in order with FIFA the score remained 2-1 in favor of Germany.

England attempted a furious come back in the second half but Germany showed better athleticism and a better scheme to solidly put England away. On a free kick by England's Lampard the Germans defended nicely and created a 3-on-1 rush up field to the England goal. Thomas Müller capitalized on the rush by notching his first goal of the match to put Germany up 3-1 with 67 minutes played. Just three minutes later Müller once again scored a goal to put Germany up 4-1. At that point it was clear that Germany was going to cruise to the next round as England appeared deflated.

It did appear clear that with the first half winding down, England had in fact tied the match at two goals a piece. A shot by Frank Lampard hit the cross bar and landed clearly behind the goal line, as seen on television cameras, by at least a foot. Regardless, the refs missed the goal as they were behind the play and had a poor angle.

In this combination image composed of five photos, Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks at the ball hitting the bar and bouncing over the line during the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between Germany and England at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Sunday, June 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

England never scored again and allowed two more goals the rest of the way so one might say the unrewarded goal would not have changed anything. But to argue that would be ridiculous as the whole course of a game could have been altered if England had gone in to the half tied with Germany, rather than trailing and needing to press more for a goal. England came out in the second half on a mission and played the more aggressive soccer, but they may have used up all of their energy in efforts to tie the match. Had the game been correctly tied then England could have played a different style in the second half, before running out of energy and seeing Germany blitz past them.

-- report from Kevin McGuire at Germany Football Examiner, June 27