England blitzed by Germany

Germany’s latest World Cup victory over England will be remembered not for any of the brilliant goals, but for the one that didn’t count.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks at the ball hitting the bar and bouncing over the line during Germany’s 4-1 win over England at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks at the ball hitting the bar and bouncing over the line during Germany’s 4-1 win over England at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein

Germany 4 England 1

BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa — Germany’s latest World Cup victory over England will be remembered not for any of the brilliant goals, but for the one that didn’t count.

Ask anyone — players, coaches, thousands of fans in the stadium and millions more watching on television — and there’s little question that Frank Lampard put a shot in the net late in the first half that would have tied the score.

But referee Jorge Larrionda waved play on, and Germany used two second-half goals by Thomas Mueller for a 4-1 victory Sunday. The Germans are headed to the quarter-finals.

The English are shaking their heads in disbelief.

“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 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 (in).”

Germany coach Joachim Loew couldn’t argue that point.

“What I saw on the television, this ball was behind the line,” Loew said. “It must have been given as goal.”

It wasn’t.

“The goal was very important,” Capello said. “We could have played a different style.

“We made some mistakes when they played the counterattack. The referee made bigger mistakes.”

Larrionda and assistant referee Mauricio Espinosa were not made available to comment. FIFA said in a statement that it “will not make any comments on decisions of the referee on the field of play.”

Soccer’s rules-making panel agreed last March not to pursue technology that could help referees judge goal-line decisions.

Germany went up on goals by Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski before England’s Matthew Upson made it 2-1 in the 37th minute.

Lampard’s non-goal came a minute later. After the ball landed across the line, it spun back into the arms of Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Capello initially celebrated what he thought was an equalizer by clenching his fists and shaking his arms. But his face changed when he realized the goal had not been given.

As the players headed off the field at halftime, Wayne Rooney walked over to a linesman and gestured with his hands how far he thought the ball crossed the goal line.

In 1966, England and Germany were 2-2 in extra time in the World Cup final when Geoff Hurst’s shot struck the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and spun back into play. That time, the referee consulted his linesman, who awarded the goal.

Hurst went on to score a third goal in England’s 4-2 victory at Wembley.

This time, it was Mueller getting two goals.

“We heard that the ball was behind the line, that we were fortunate,” Mueller said of Lampard’s shot. “Before the last two goals, the game hung in the balance, England was putting on the pressure.”

The 20-year-old forward finished two quick German counterattacks within three minutes to sink England’s hopes of beating Germany at the World Cup for the first time since that ’66 final.

Germany plays the winner of Argentina-Mexico, which is later Sunday.

“In the knockout stages, Germany is always there,” Podolski said. “We fought and ran a lot, just fantastic today.”

Added Klose: “We were aggressive from the first minute and it was a deserved victory. Our target was to reach the semifinals and that’s what we want to achieve.”

It was the most lopsided England loss in a World Cup.

Mueller scored on the counterattack in the 67th minute, having started the move after a long clearance by Jerome Boateng. Mueller passed to Bastian Schweinsteiger, who patiently dribbled upfield and ran across the 18-yard line to feed the unguarded Mueller. His shot hit the hand of England goalkeeper David James and went in.

Three minutes later, Mueller struck again after a break on the left wing by Mesut Oezil.

“We played I think well at 2-1, but after the third goal it was a little bit disappointing,” Capello said. “Germany is a big team. They played a good game.”

Klose scored his 50th goal in 99 games for Germany — his 12th World Cup goal — by outmuscling defender Upson to a bouncing ball off a goal kick. Podolski gave the three-time champions a 2-0 lead, putting the ball through James’ legs.

Upson headed in a cross from Steven Gerrard to make it 2-1, then Lampard’s shot was not rewarded — a decision sure to be debated for as long as international soccer has no video replay.

“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.”

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