BLOEMFONTEIN // Germany crushed England 4-1 in the most thrilling match of the World Cup so far as two second-half goals from Thomas Mueller killed off the clash between the two classic football rivals. Germany went two-nil ahead in the first half through Miroslav Klose on 20 minutes and Lukas Podolski in the 32nd as their speedy attack exposed England's ponderous defence. But England fought back superbly, Matthew Upson pulling one back in the 37th, and Frank Lampard appeared to have equalised just a minute later when his shot hit the crossbar and clearly crossed the line ? but the goal was not given.
As England pushed forward in the second half, Germany's counter-attacks killed them off with two breakaway goals in three minutes from Mueller in the 67th and 70th. Despite the Germans dominating the contest, England would argue that their dissallowed goal could have flipped the last 16 tie on its head. With England just having pulled a goal back, the Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda, guided by his assistant and compatriot Pablo Fandino, decreed the ball had not crossed the line.
A television replay showed it clearly had by about a metre. Lampard had blasted the ball from about 40 metres out, beating German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. After coming down from the bar, it bounced out of the goal into Neuer's arms. The incident drew comparison with the third England goal from Geoff Hurst in the 1966 final against West Germany, which Germans still say never crossed the line after his shot came down off the crossbar and has been debated ever since. England went on to win 4-2.
Former German referee Helmut Krug told German TV that England were denied a goal by the referee. "That was an inexcusable mistake. The assistant should have seen that. It was clearly behind the line. An assistant should have seen that ? without any instant replays." Theo Zwanziger, the German FA president, added in a German TV interview at half time he could see the ball had crossed the line from his seat on the stands.
"We've got to stick with the rules we've got. I can feel for the England fans and that they didn't like that (goal not allowed). I could see from the stands that the ball was in the goal." The incident will enter the annals of the long rivalry between England and Germany. It will also add fuel to arguments that Fifa should use video technology to help referees in contested situations. However, on the night, Germany were the superior side and fully deserved their passage into the quarter-finals and will play the winner of the Argentina v Mexico second round match palyed later in Johannesburg.