Germany and Argentina set-up a mouthwatering Soccer World Cup quarterfinal showdown on Sunday as vanquished England and Mexico were left licking wounds partially inflicted by embarrassing referee blunders.
Germany thrashed England 4-1 to leave Fabio Capello pondering his future as national coach while Diego Maradona’s Argentina saw off Mexico 3-1 as the former champions paved the way for a last eight showdown in Cape Town on July 3.
But both last 16 games were mired in controversy.
Capello slammed the Uruguayan referee as his team crashed out in a Bloemfontein humiliation.
Frank Lampard had a legitimate goal disallowed by referee Jorge Larrionda when England were trailing 2-1 just before half-time.
‘The referee made one of the biggest mistakes’
With England surging forward, the midfielder unleashed a drive that beat goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, came off the underside of the crossbar and landed over the goal-line before bouncing out.
Amazingly, Larrionda waved play on and Thomas Mueller scored twice within four minutes midway through the second half to finish the job.
“The referee made one of the biggest mistakes,” said Capello.
But he could not disguise his admiration for a young German team who could never have dreamt they would finish such convincing winners.
“Germany are a great team. We were caught out on the counter-attack,” admitted the man, who took England to the first African World Cup in such impressive style.
Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had given Germany a 2-0 lead as England’s defence was repeatedly carved open before Matthew Upson won an aerial duel to nod his side back into contention.
Germany coach Joachim Loew said: “I said to my team at half-time, we need to try to score the third goal. We knew we could hit England on the counter-attack because they were open. Our players carried it off brilliantly.”
Calls for technology
Lampard insists the time is right for football to fall in line with other sports by adopting technology.
“I am in favour of goal-line technology, especially after tonight,” said the Chelsea midfielder.
“The ball crossed the line, it was over, it was so obvious. If we had got back to 2-2 at that moment, it could have been different.”
The previous widest margin between the countries was 4-2 for England after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final that also had a controversial moment with a Geoff Hurst goal allowed amid claims the ball did not cross the line.
Argentina march on
In Johannesburg, two goals by Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez and Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain, his fourth to become the tournament’s top-scorer, allowed Argentina to cruise through.
Mexico forward Javier Hernandez gave his side brief hope when he turned his marker in the 71st minute and smashed his shot past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero.
Tevez’s first-half strike was awarded in controversial circumstances as replays showed he was offside when world footballer of the year Lionel Messi gave him the final pass.
The Mexican defence complained bitterly, but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti allowed the 26th-minute goal to stand despite the furore caused by a replay of the incident on Soccer City’s giant TV screens.
Maradona said he was relishing the chance to once again lock horns with Germany.
“I feel like pulling on the jersey and playing myself,” he said.
Mexico coach Javier Aguirre said two mistakes cost his side Sunday’s game.
“In the first few minutes we were superior. But then we conceded a goal which was offside and then there was an error in the defence. Two mistakes made a dramatic difference,” said Aguirre.
On Monday, the second round continues in Durban with The Netherlands facing Slovakia, whose victory condemned defending champions Italy to an early exit.
In Johannesburg, five-time champions Brazil face Chile. — AFP