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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk