Crespo: 'We've an exceptional team. This hurts so much'

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The Independent Football

The Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo spoke yesterday about Argentina being "in agony" after they were knocked out in the World Cup quarter-finals by Germany in Berlin on Friday. The hosts' victory on penalties, after the quarter-final ended 1-1 after extra time, was a bitter blow to Argentina, who had been regarded as one of the favourites.

Their coach, Jose Pekerman, resigned following the defeat, with criticism being aimed at him for taking the playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme off against the hosts with 18 minutes of normal time remaining. Crespo said: "We played really well and it hurts so much to lose. The boys are really down because we've got an exceptional team, we gave it everything we had out there and we deserved so much more.

"Germany weren't better than us and the game was decided by the smallest of details. For me, we've had a disappointing tournament, because we've been knocked out. That said, I'm very proud to be part of this group."

The Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze said he now "couldn't care less" who wins the tournament. He said: "It hurts a lot to lose like that. We didn't deserve it but we gave it all we had. I really don't know why we lost. As for whether I think Germany will win the World Cup, the truth is I really couldn't care less."

His captain and fellow defender Roberto Ayala insisted that his players should return home from the World Cup with their heads held high. "We've had a great World Cup and we were a great side, one that improved with every game. But now we've got nothing to show for it," he said. "We shouldn't be hard on ourselves, though, and we can look ourselves in the mirror and go home proud of what we've done. I think the last 10 minutes were vital to us not winning the game. That's when we lost a little control and let Germany get an equaliser."

A stadium announcer was replaced during the hosts' quarter-final for encouraging the home fans, according to Fifa. The governing body intervened after Andreas Wenzel used the announcement of a substitution to tell the 72,000-strong crowd in the Olympiastadion that the German team needed their support. Wenzel, a veteran announcer, promptly found himself substituted at the microphone. "This had no place in the balanced neutrality of an announcer," Markus Siegler, a Fifa spokesman, said.

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