FIFA World Cup: Germany batters Argentina to reach last four

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Germany's goals flowed freely once again at the World Cup, this time battering Argentina 4-0 on Saturday to propel the three-time champions into the semifinals and send both Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona home.

Miroslav Klose scored two of the goals to take his World Cup tally to 14 in three tournaments, equalling the German record held by Gerd Mueller. Brazil striker Ronaldo has the overall World Cup record with 15 goals.

"I am so happy for Miroslav Klose to get two goals in his 100th game," Germany coach Joachim Loew said.

"What he has already shown is of the very highest level," Loew added of Klose, who scored only three goals in the Bundesliga last season but has four so far in South Africa. "It is entering history."

Thomas Mueller gave Germany the lead with a third-minute header, and Klose celebrated his 100th international appearance with a simple tap-in in the 68th minute as Germany outplayed the Argentine defence again.

Arne Friedrich raced all the way up from defence to strike home the third goal in the 74th, and Klose scored his second in the 89th.

Friedrich celebrated with a bellyflop, and Klose did a somersault after his second goal.

"We play with so much happiness and that is good," Friedrich said.

It was the third match at this year's World Cup in which the Germans scored four goals following a 4-0 win over Australia and 4-1 win over England.

"What the team showed, it was not only international level, but the level of champions," Loew said. "It was absolute class."

With the three-time champion Germans dominating every sector of the field, Argentina paled in comparison and Messi left the tournament without a single goal, while Maradona failed to get his nation back into the World Cup final.

"To lose like that is very painful," Argentina striker Carlos Tevez said. "We played badly and sometimes when you make mistakes you go home.

"They did what we knew they were capable of doing."

In the stands, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was clapping and celebrating while down below, Maradona clasped his hands before his face in frustration, unable to meet the demands of the tens of thousands of Argentine fans among the crowd of 64,100 at the Green Point Stadium.

With all the pre-game hype and bad blood dominating the headlines, the game started as explosively as could be expected. Bastian Schweinsteiger curled in a tight free kick from the left in the third minute and Mueller glanced it toward the feet of an out-of-position goalkeeper Sergio Romero and into the net.

When Argentina started threatening in the second half, Germany's teamwork paid off again on a break in the 68th when Lukas Podolski found Klose totally unmarked in the goalmouth and the Bayern Munich veteran celebrated with probably the simplest goal of his Germany career.

The Argentines soon collapsed, and Friedrich finished off the sort of teamwork that has turned the young German team into a favorite for the title.

With his second goal, Klose proved how lethal he still is at 32.

Argentina put its first shot on target in the 33rd minute when Manuel Neuer saved from Angel Di Maria. Gonzalo Higuain put the ball in the back of the net but it was preceded by a blatant offside in the 36th.

Messi, though, long found it tough to impose his skill on the game, in sharp contrast with his season at Barcelona.

With banners in the Argentine-dominated stands that read "Dios existe y esta a el banco," or "God exists, he sits on the bench," the Argentine fans counted on Maradona to turn things around at halftime.

But it only got worse.

Lineups:

Argentina: Sergio Romero, Martin Demichelis, Nicolas Burdisso, Gabriel Heinze, Nicolas Otamendi (Pastore, 70), Maxi Rodriguez, Javier Mascherano, Angel Di Maria (Kun Aguero, 75), Gonzalo Higuain, Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez.

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Arne Friedrich, Jerome Boateng (Marcell Jansen, 72), Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira (Toni Kroos, 77), Thomas Mueller (Piotr Trochowski, 84), Mesut Oezil, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.

-AP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 25 Nov 2014 04:15:05 Processing Time: 222ms