Lampard 'goal' that never was masks shortcomings

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The Independent Football

They will be talking about the miscarriage of justice for years.

They will play the video of Frank Lampard's shot which hit the crossbar and bounced down over the line but was not spotted by the officials and say that was the moment England were cheated out of the 2010 World Cup.

And you cannot get away from the fact that it would have seen England equalise at 2-2 towards the end of the first half.

But it would also be wrong to say it cost England the World Cup.

Why? Because Germany were irresistible at times in their 4-1 victory in Bloemfontein which sees them go through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup while England pack their bags for home.

Yes, it is hard for England fans to take. Forever some will believe that if England had equalised they would have gone on to win.

It will gnaw away at them just as Geoff Hurst's controversial goal which was given in the 1966 World Cup final has gnawed away at Germany for 44 years.

But no-one could argue that Germany were not the better team. They were more cohesive throughout. They kept the ball better. They passed beautifully and broke with breathtaking speed and penetration.

This is not a German side which rolls with efficiency. It is one which rocks. The youngest German team for 76 years. Full of skill and ambition and fluidity. Dripping with goals, too, and it will take a mighty fine side to deny them yet another appearance in a World Cup final.

In that respect there is no shame in having lost to a team which had the look of football's future.

The disappointment was that England, by comparison, looked like tired men playing in the past.

That was what was hard to take. Hadn't Fabio Capello been brought in to take England to a World Cup semi-final at least?

The fact is that their performances here in South Africa have been tepid at best and abject at worst. That does not sound like £6million a year well spent.

And so you can add this to Mexico 1970, Italy 90 and Euro 96 as another occasion when England fell short against Germany at the business end of a major tournament.

The head-to-head tally from 27 matches between the two teams before the encounter in Bloemfontein was 12 wins each. But, apart from 1966, Germany seem to have won the big ones.

And whatever the rights and wrongs of the disallowed goal England were embarrassingly short.

They were slower to the ball. Bamboozled by the more intelligent movement of a German side who are full of silky skills and penetrative creation.

Yet when Germany's first goal came from Miroslav Klose it was route one. A big hoof from German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, a misread from John Terry and Matthew Upson was outmuscled by Miroslav Klose who slid the ball past David James.

Germany's second also carved open the defence. It is no good blaming Upson. He is Capello's fourth choice centre back. By rights and full fitness to others he should be nowhere near a World Cup last 16.

But you do expect basic skills of defending and Terry and Upson were found wanting.

Germany worked their patterns. Played with a pleasing rhythm.

That is something England failed to pack in their baggage when they flew out from Heathrow. They had looked pedestrian against the USA and Algeria. England enjoyed much of the possession but simply were not able to use it as effectively as their opponents.

They almost needed to go two down to get their juices flowing and when they did it was the centre of defence carved open again to allow Lukas Podolski to slash a left-foot shot past James.

In a match of technical merit England cannot compete with the Germans. But give them a footballing tear-up and they have a puncher's chance.

And when Upson met Steven Gerrard's cross to expose the weakness of Neuer in the German goal it seemed to give England a lifeline.

Still, it should have been 2-2 at half-time and that will be one of the enduring stories in World Cup history.

But rather than blaming the linesman who clearly was not up with play England might also direct their displeasure at FIFA president Sepp Blatter, sat up in the stand and the man who has relentlessly dismissed the use of video technology.

It would have taken 10 seconds to determine the fact that the ball had not just crossed the line but landed some two feet past it.

But, in truth, it would not have changed the fact that England were miles behind Germany. And way short of being world class.