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 quarterfinals. The English are shaking their heads.
“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.”
“We made some mistakes when they played the counterattack,” Capello said. “The referee made bigger mistakes.”
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 was not a goal.
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 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. “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 3 minutes to sink England’s hopes of beating Germany at the World Cup for the first time since that ’66 final.
Germany plays Argentina, which beat Mexico 3-1, in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Cape Town.
It was the most lopsided England World Cup loss.
“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.”