Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Argentina, Germany to meet in World Cup quarters following controversial wins

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Combination photo shows Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer watching the ball cross the line during the 2010 World Cup second round soccer match against England at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein June 27, 2010. England were denied an equalising goal on Sunday when a Frank Lampard shot from 20 metres out hit the crossbar and dropped well over the line.

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Glen Johnson (L) of England vies with Lukas Podolski of Germany during the 1/8 final match between England and Germany at the 2010 FIFA World Cup at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on June 27, 2010. Germany won 4-1 and is qualified for the quarterfinals.

JOHANNESBURG, June 27 -- Argentina set up a World Cup quarterfinal showdown with Germany on Sunday after defeating Mexico 3-1 in an entertaining second round clash at Soccer City Stadium.

Carlos Tevez scored twice - once clearly offside while Gonzalo Higuain capitalized on a defensive error to top the tournament goalscorers with four in four matches.

Earlier Sunday, Germany beat England 4-1 but that game was also mired in controversy after the referee ruled out a clear goal from England midfielder Frank Lampard with the score at 2-1.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona was pleased with the win, but admitted Germany would be a step up from the hard-working Mexicans.

"I feel like pulling on the jersey and playing myself," said Maradona.

"We know Germany are a different team to the side we faced in Mexico. They are stronger, but we will field the right players to beat them."

Argentina went ahead on 26 minutes when Tevez headed into an empty net from close range after Lionel Messi had latched onto a loose ball toward goal. TV Replays showed Tevez to be offside, but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti allowed the goal to stand despite protests from the Mexicans.

Higuain then capitalized on a blunder by Mexico defender Ricardo Osorio who passed the ball straight to Higuain just outside the penalty box. The Argentinean striker calmly rounded goalkeeper Oscar Perez before slotting into an empty net in the 33rd.

Tevez arguably scored the goal of the tournament so far on 52 minutes by smashing an unstoppable shot into the top-right corner just outside the penalty area.

Mexico forward Javier Hernandez earned his side a consolation goal when he fired a shot past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 71st minute.

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Argentina's Carlos Tevez (L) controls the ball during the 1/8 final match against Mexico at the 2010 FIFA World Cup at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 27, 2010.

Germany powered into the last eight by crushing England 4-1 in a match that will be remembered for the goal not awarded to Lampard.

England coach Fabio Capello believed that referee Jorge Larrionda's wrong decision was the turning point and eventually caused a disastrous end to his team's South African journey.

"If we had been awarded the goal at 2-2, the game would be different," said the Italian.

"It's a big mistake from the referee. It's too important for us to go forward," he added.

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 and send the English to their worst ever defeat at a final tournament.

Miroslav Klose broke the deadlock after 20 minutes for Germany and opened the goal flush in a highly-anticipated match.

Lukas Podolski doubled the Germans' lead in the 32nd minute. Although England pulled one back only five minutes later through Upston's header, Thomas Mueller made a double within three minutes after the break to put the victory beyond the reach of Capello's squad.

Seven minutes before halftime, Lampard's blasting shot bounced off the underside of the bar and landed about half a meter over the goal-line.

The twist recalls the memory of England's highly controversial goal in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany, which was awarded and helped England lift the trophy with a 4-2 win on home soil. Ever since then, Germany have had the hex over the Three Lions at the World Cup, winning in 1970, drawing in 1982 and triumphing in the penalty shoot out in 1990.

Loew admitted the referee's mistake but emphasized their domination in most of the time.

"From TV images, I have to say this ball was across the line. It should be awarded," Loew said.

"After 2-0, we took control of the game. I have to say we were dominant over long patches.

"We were very aggressive, very pushy from the first minute. Our midfielders were very creative and helped us penetrate their defence. We should have been three to nil in the first half," he added.

Klose bagged his 50th goal for Germany and his personal 12th in the World Cup, only three short of Brazilian Ronaldo's record 15. The Bayern Munich forward could have even added two more but saw his efforts blocked.

Opposite to the tension before the game, both sides started lack of creativity and inspiration until when a Germany's long cross found dashing Miroslav Klose well, who held off Matt Upson in the box to poke the ball past David James.

At 2-1 down in the second half, Lampard had another chance to level the score but his free-kick hit the bar, again, and went wide this time.

The final stage of the match was all about Germans' break with pace and Mueller's brace were the fine conclusions of two lightening counter-attacks.

In the 67th minute, Bastian Schweinsteiger played a perfect pass for Mueller, who inside the area, smashed it off the body of David James and into the net. The 20-year-old grabbed his third goal in the tournament three minutes later when he whacked in Mesut Oezil's pass along the six-yard box.

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