Maradona’s Argentina crushed by Germany 4-0(Night Lead)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CAPE TOWN - Germany’s young guns Saturday humbled Argentina 4-0 with a display of incisive football in the Green Point Stadium here to book a berth in the World Cup semi-finals.

Goals by Thomas Mueller, Arne Friedrich and two by Miroslav Klose - on his 100th cap - ruined the South Americans’ dreams of revenge for the quarter-final defeat on penalties at the same stage in Germany four years ago.

It was an amazing result for the Germans, who had destroyed their other old enemy England 4-1 in the previous round.

The only downside was a silly booking for Mueller in the 35th minute, which puts the young star out for the semi-final against either Paraguay or Spain, who were to meet later Saturday.

“We played very well. I am very proud of the team. The early goal was decisive for us. We are strong enough to go further,” said Man of the Match Bastian Schweinsteiger who added: “The team is very young. What we lack in experience we make up for in audacity and a carefree approach.”

And his ecstatic coach Joachim Loew praised the leader of his young side. “He (Schweinsteiger) is world class,” he said. “He is irreplaceable. There is hardly any other midfielder on his level in the world at the moment.”

Germany were by far the better side, and got off to a dream start on the third minute, when the 20-year-old Mueller ghosted through the dozing Argentinian defence to nod home from a wicked in-swinging Schweinsteiger free kick.

It was the 20-year-old Bayern Munich midfielder’s fourth goal of the tournament, putting him level at the top of the scoring charts with Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain, Spain’s David Villa, The Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder, Slovakia’s Robert Vittek and teammate Klose.

Argentina were struggling to get going as Germany’s movement caused them all kind of problems, although in the 22nd minute Lionel Messi almost played Carlos Tevez in with a through ball that was just a little too close to Manuel Neuer in the German goal.

But Germany still looked more dangerous, and in the 24th minute Mueller pounced on slack defensive play and fed Klose, who should have done better than blast over from close range.

Messi continually dropped deep to pick up possession, running at the German defence and spraying passes around as Argentina tried to find a way through. But in a pattern that was to continue for the rest of the game, he could not find a way through Germany’s solid defence.

Much was expected of Argentina, who impressed in the earlier stages of the tournament, but it took them until the 33rd minute to get a shot on target - and it was a weak effort from Angel Di Maria that Neuer saved easily.

Higuain had the ball in the net on 37 minutes, but both he and Carlos Tevez were correctly ruled offside.

Mueller had a shot deflected wide and Messi fired over from outside the box as the half drew to a close with Argentina still looking for the breakthrough.

On 48 minutes, Di Maria came as close as Argentina had until that point, firing a great shot from the edge of the box just wide of Neuer’s right-hand post.

The South Americans looked threatening when Maxi Rodriguez chested down for Tevez, but his thunderbolt struck Per Mertesacker full in the face and bobbled out of play.

Messi’s shot broke loose in the box on the 63rd minute, but Boateng stretched out a foot and cleared the danger. Then Di Maria had another effort from outside the box.

But two goals in six minutes put paid to any chance of an Argentinian comeback.

In the 68th minutes, Klose marked his 100th cap with a tap-in goal. Mueller, lying flat on his back, somehow hooked the ball through for Lukas Podolski, who played it across goal for an easy finish from Klose.

Six minutes later, the tireless Schweinsteiger ran through the Argentina defence as if they weren’t there and cut back for defender Arne Friedrich to slide in from close-range Germany’s third.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona cut a forlorn figure on the sideline, standing at the edge of the technical area with his arms folded as Germany looked for a fourth.

Mueller was taken off to massive cheers before Germany completed the rout on the 89th minute, when Klose hit home a cross by Mesut Oezil. It was Klose’s 14th World Cup goal, equalling the German record of Gerd Mueller.

German coach Loew said: “Klose has already made history. I always knew he would help the team in the important games. Now we are in the semi-finals - in the top four in the world - which is where the team belongs.”

Beaten Argentine striker Carlos Tevez admitted that Germany had just been too strong. He said: “We have no complaints. They played well. They did not surprise us. It was all very predictable.

“We knew they would make things difficult for us from dead-ball situations and then play on the counter-attack.”

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