Tuesday 14 April 2020, 11:26

#WorldCupAtHome: Muller runs riot in historic win over Three Lions

  • Germany-England chosen by fans for the #WorldCupAtHome series

  • Germany inflicted the Three Lions’ biggest ever World Cup defeat

  • The memorable encounter took place ten years ago today

Germany sensationally reached the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ as Joachim Low’s side beat England 4-1 in front of 40,510 spectators at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein, a result that marked the Three Lions’ heaviest World Cup defeat.

The summary

[[flag-ger-s]] Germany 4-1 England [[flag-eng-s]]

27 June 2010 | Free State Stadium, Mangaung/Bloemfontein

Goalscorers: Germany: Miroslav Klose (19’), Lukas Podolski (31’), Thomas Muller (66’, 69’) | England: Matthew Upson (36’)

Line-ups: Germany: Manuel Neuer – Philipp Lahm (c), Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Jerome Boateng – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira – Thomas Muller (Piotr Trochowski 72’), Mesut Ozil (Stefan Kiessling 83’), Lukas Podolski – Miroslav Klose (Mario Gomez 72’)

England: David James – Glen Johnson (Shaun Wright-Phillips 87’), John Terry, Matthew Upson, Ashley Cole – Frank Lampard, Gareth Barry – James Milner (Joe Cole 64’), Steven Gerrard (c) – Jermain Defoe (Emile Heskey 71’), Wayne Rooney

The stakes

Meetings between these two footballing giants have long been guaranteed to produce tension and emotions and the encounter in South Africa was no different, even if both teams showed some inconsistent displays in the group stage. England, who had scored two goals across a win and two draws prior to facing Germany, still firmly believed in their status as one of the title favourites at the tournament. However, in order to justify that billing they needed an improved performance, particularly in terms of their build-up play and finishing.

Germany, meanwhile, experienced an emotional roller coaster in the group stage. After opening their account with a comfortable 4-0 thrashing of Australia, they were off-colour in a 1-0 defeat to Serbia before booking their ticket to the next round with a narrow 1-0 victory over Ghana. Nevertheless, at South Africa 2010 the youngest Germany team to participate at a World Cup in 76 years proved to be worthy successors to their illustrious predecessors.

The match

There was a clear sense of mutual respect between the two rivals in the opening period, before Manuel Neuer launched a long goal kick forward in the 20th minute for Miroslav Klose to chase. The striker ended up one-on-one with David James and coolly slotted the ball into the net to give Germany the lead. The England goalkeeper saved an effort from the excellent Klose on the half-hour mark following a brilliant pass from Thomas Muller, but Lukas Podolski still managed to double his team’s advantage just a minute later.

England needed to produce a response and did so when centre-back Matthew Upson reduced the deficit with a towering header from Steven Gerrard’s cross in the 37th minute. Suddenly the Three Lions believed once more that victory was possible against their arch rivals.

England looked closer to an equaliser than Germany to a third goal, but Joachim Low’s charges refused to buckle. And for the 20-year-old Muller, arguably the highlight of his blossoming career up to that point was about to arrive. On 67 minutes he initiated a counter-attack and played the ball on to his club colleague Bastian Schweinsteiger before sprinting the length of the pitch, receiving a return pass just outside England’s penalty area and rifling an unstoppable shot past James. Just 180 seconds later, Germany’s number 13 grabbed his second of the game to round off the 4-1 scoreline.

The star

Gerd Muller last took the global stage by storm at the 1974 World Cup, and 36 years later it was his namesake Thomas who picked up where he had left off. Not only did the youngster take home the Hyundai Best Young Player Award, he also followed in the footsteps of compatriots Muller (1970) and Klose (2006) by earning the adidas Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.

“He’s got unbelievable qualities,” said Low of Muller after the England game. “He never tenses up and despite his young age he never shows any nerves. He’s got the quality to ruthlessly finish chances in the penalty area. It’s incredible how clinical he is in front of goal."

What they said

"Germany are a fantastic team and they deserved their win. We'll go away and have a think about what went wrong and why we didn't progress further in the tournament. As a team we've made a big mistake today and we've been beaten by a good team. They were more clinical in front of goal and they made less mistakes than us and we got punished for that." Steven Gerrard, England captain

"Team spirit was the main reason we won. Everyone worked their socks off for everyone else, and we were all committed to the cause. That's what made the difference." Miroslav Klose, Germany goalscorer

"We are very satisfied. It was a fantastic performance against a very experienced England team. I’m sure it was a fun game to watch for the fans. We definitely played with lot of confidence, and the first goals were good for our morale. I said to my team at the half-time break that we needed to try and score the third goal. We knew we could hit England on the counter-attack because they were open. Our players carried it off brilliantly." Joachim Low, Germany coach

"We played well but Germany are one of the biggest teams here. We made some mistakes when they played the counter-attack. The little things always decide the results. After we lost the third goal, I think our heads dropped a bit. Mistakes were made because they scored on the counter-attack after a free-kick for us." Fabio Capello, England coach

What happened next

Germany were also excellent in the quarter-finals, beating an Argentina side coached by Diego Maradona 4-0 before losing 1-0 to eventual champions Spain in the semi-finals. Low’s side returned home with a bronze medal thanks to a 3-2 victory over Uruguay in the play-off for third place. Four years later, however, Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Co deservedly lifted the title at Brazil 2014, while England were knocked out at the group stage for the first time in World Cup history.