Germany was ruthless in advancing to World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday, beating England 4-1 in a second-round match overshadowed by a glaring mistake from the referee.
Thomas Mueller finished two quick counterattacks within four minutes in the second half to sink England's hopes of beating Germany at the World Cup for the first time since the 1966 final. It was England's worst ever defeat at a final tournament.
Frank Lampard thought he'd equalised in the 38th minute when his shot bounced off the underside of the crossbar and over the line, but referee Jorge Larrionda did not award a goal and Germany held its 2-1 lead until halftime.
"It's incredible," England coach Fabio Capello said. "We played with five referees and they can't decide if it's a goal or no goal. The game was (very) different after this goal. It was the mistake of the linesman and I think the referee because from the bench I saw the ball go over the (line)."
That England win at Wembley 44 years ago included a similar goal off the crossbar that is still disputed to this day, with many Germans believing the ball never crossed the line. Now, England fans will have something to complain about for decades to come.
"We heard that the ball was behind the line, that we were fortunate," said Mueller, a 20-year-old Bayern Munich forward who has had a breakthrough season. "Before the last two goals, the game hung in balance, England was putting on the pressure.
"It's an incredible feeling to score the goal that takes the pressure off your team."
Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski gave Germany a 2-0 lead before Matthew Upson pulled a goal back for England in the 37th minute. That was followed quickly by Lampard's apparently legitimate goal.
"I think if you look back at the game as a whole we've been beaten by the better team," England captain Steven Gerrard said. "At 2-1, if Frank's ball had stayed I think it would have been a nice turning point in the game."
Television replays clearly showed Lampard's shot had crossed the line. Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer collected the ball as England shouted for a goal, but the Larrionda motioned for play to continue.
"We clearly controlled the game until England's goal, then there was a short critical phase," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "What I saw in the television this ball was behind the line, it must have been given as goal."
Had the goal been awarded, it could have changed the course of the match.
"It was one of the most important things in the game," Capello said. "The goal was very important. We could have played a different style. We played I think well at 2-1, but after the third goal it was a little bit disappointing."
In extra time of the 1966 World Cup final, Geoff Hurst sent a shot off the underside of the crossbar that also bounced down and spun back into play. That time, the goal was awarded, giving England 3-2 lead over Germany. Hurst then scored another to make the final 4-2.
Klose scored his 50th goal in 99 games for Germany in the 20th minute, his 12th World Cup goal, by out muscling Upson to a bouncing ball off a goal kick. Podolski struck Germany's second 12 minutes later, slotting the ball through James' legs and exposing the weak England defense yet again.
"We were aggressive from the first minute and it was a deserved victory," Klose said. "Our target was to reach the semifinals and that's what we want to achieve."
Germany will play either Argentina or Mexico in the quarterfinals.
Upson brought England back into the match, heading in a cross from Gerrard to make it 2-1.
Mueller then scored on the counterattack in the 67th minute, having started the move after a long clearance by Jerome Boateng. His shot hit the hand of England goalkeeper David James and went inside the post.
"They played a good game," Capello said. "We made some mistakes when they played the counterattack. The referee made bigger mistakes. Little things decide the result always."
Three minutes later, Mueller scored again after a break on the left side by Mesut Oezil.
"At this World Cup, everything is possible," Mueller said. "It's a very difficult opponent waiting for us, either Argentina or Mexico. In the end, it doesn't matter. You've got to beat them all."
Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Arne Friedrich, Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira, Thomas Mueller (Piotr Trochowski, 72), Mesut Oezil (Stefa Kiessling, 83), Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose (Mario Gomez, 72).
England: David James, Glen Johnson (Shaun Wright-Phillips, 87) John Terry, Matthew Upson, Ashley Cole, James Milner (Joe Cole, 64), Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe (Emile Heskey, 71).