Klose enjoys century duty to humble Argentina

Argentina 0 Germany 4: Inspirational display by Löw's Germans in Cape Town makes the world sit up and take notice

They arrived banging the windows of the team bus on which were written the words: "Last Stop, Glory". As Argentina stood in the tunnel, waiting for kick-off, Diego Maradona came over and kissed each one of his boys on the cheek; a blessing from a godfather.

Some two hours later, after Argen-tina had been taken apart by a team who relied more on tactics than a form of gang culture, most of Maradona's boys were in tears. Maxi Rodriguez was inconsolable. Lionel Messi broke down in the dressing room, his World Cup ended by Germany just as it had been in Berlin four years before. This time, however,

there would be no violent confrontation between the two sets of players. The gulf had been too wide for there to be any argument, and soon Mara-dona was saying he was ready to quit as the national coach. "I may leave tomorrow," he said. "I'll have to think carefully about it, and talk with my family and the players. There are many issues here."

The side Maradona built attacked thrillingly, defended questionably and relied on motivation rather than tactics. In the third minute, when Thomas Müller stooped to head home Bastian Schweinsteiger's cross, it quickly became apparent Maradona's bus had reached the end of the line. "To see Messi crying in the dressing room, telling me he deeply regrets what has happened, is terrible," he said. "Anyone who tells me he did not honour the Argentine colours has to be stupid.

"This is a similar sadness to the one I felt the day I stopped playing. I will be 50 in October and this is the toughest moment in my life; a kick in the face, and I have no more energy left for anything."

Argentina's defence was obviously vulnerable, although few could have guessed how efficiently Joachim Löw's side would expose Nicolas Otamendi and the ageing Gabriel Heinze. It was the way Per Mertesacker and Arne Friedrich neutered an attack that had seemed irresistible that was the key to Germany's third four-goal victory of this World Cup and one even easier than their humbling of England in Bloemfontein.

Friedrich even got his name on the scoresheet, which is more than Messi has achieved in South Africa, when with Argentina disintegrating as a unit, Schweinsteiger skipped through three tepid tackles and cut the ball back for the big central defender to slide home ahead of Heinze's exhausted challenge. "Argentina have four or five world-class attackers but they don't tend to support their defence," said Löw, whose achievements in South Africa and Euro 2008 have now eclipsed those of his predecessor, Jürgen Klinsmann. "I told my young players that they were faster than Argentina and, if they put players like Heinze under pressure, they would struggle because they are not as young as they were."

Only two things would have concerned Löw at half-time: the fact that Müller's harsh booking for handball meant he would miss the semi-final in Durban; and that Germany should have been considerably more than one up.

After the interval, Argentina became as sucked in and as vulnerable to the counterattack as England ever were. Miroslav Klose virtually walked the ball into the net to finish off a move that had begun with Müller passing to Lukas Podolski while flat on his back. And just before the end, Klose, playing his 100th international, scored his fourth goal of this World Cup and his 14th in all.

Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Kaka... all the marquee names of this World Cup have now gone, eclipsed by a centre-forward who decided to train as a carpenter in case football didn't work out.



Bookings: Argentina: Otamendi, Mascherano. Germany: Müller.

Attendance: 64,100

Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)

Man of the match: Schweinsteiger

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project