Blown call adds to English misery

CanWest News Service
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The anger and indignation is destined to rage long and loud. Brace yourself: The irrefutable video evidence will be replayed more often than the Zapruder film over the few days.

Cheated, yes. Scandalously so.

But outclassed, too.

No one can argue that England and its rabid faithful have every reason to scream bloody murder today, ridiculously denied a legitimate Frank Lampard goal that would have (at least temporarily) evened Sunday's off-the-dial-anticipated FIFA World Cup round-of-16 match against Germany.

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer looks at the ball hitting the bar and bouncing over the line during a World Cup soccer match against England in Bloemfontein, South Africa on Sunday. The goal, which would have tied the game 2-2, was disallowed. The same pl

The anger and indignation is destined to rage long and loud. Brace yourself: The irrefutable video evidence will be replayed more often than the Zapruder film over the few days.

Cheated, yes. Scandalously so.

But outclassed, too.

No one can argue that England and its rabid faithful have every reason to scream bloody murder today, ridiculously denied a legitimate Frank Lampard goal that would have (at least temporarily) evened Sunday's off-the-dial-anticipated FIFA World Cup round-of-16 match against Germany.

"We heard the ball was behind the line,' acknowledged two-goal star Thomas Mueller. "It was a bit of luck, which we had to seize with both hands."

And it'd be too convenient, not to mention dangerously short-sighted for the Three Lions looking forward, to allow a single moment, however blatantly unfair, to obscure a few pertinent facts:

° That the pokey back line, which Fabio Capello kept insisting World Cup worthy, was sliced open more easily than 'Ammerin' Henry Cooper.

° That this so-called Golden Generation of English stars, failing once again to deliver on the biggest of international stages, has been wildly over-rated, by an avalanche of publicity and saturation coverage of the Premiership across the globe.

° That the pugnacious Wayne Rooney - if not, as rumoured, hiding an injury during this tournament - has a long way to go to reach Lionel Messi-like status.

Perhaps a 4-1 score line did slightly flatter the youthful, dynamic Germans. Yet that should in no way diminish a stunning accomplishment in Bloemfontein. They were superior in all facets. More inventive. Less wasteful. More poised, despite being on average four years younger than their adversaries.

At this tournament, England played one good game (Slovenia), a middling one (US. A.) and two stinkers.

Crucifying a referee doesn't alter any of that.

Germany's counter-attack was devastating. Capello's men simply could not catch up.

"They are a fantastic team and they deserved it,' praised captain Steven Gerrard graciously. "We'll go away and have a think about what went wrong and why we didn't progress further in the tournament. We've made a big mistake today and we've been beaten by a good team.'

The disallowed goal certainly had shades of '66, and Geoff Hurst's crossbar cracker.

England had just cut its deficit in half, to 2-1, when a clever Lampard lob over a desperately backtracking Manuel Neuer struck the bar, ricocheted downward and landed a good yard over the goal-line, in plain view, then shot back up and off the upright again before the German keeper could scramble to the rescue.

Obviously, none of Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda or assistants Mauricio Espinosa nor Fabio Fandio of Brazil were in a position to see it conclusively. The list of refereeing curiosities at this World Cup has been, bluntly, staggering.

Considering the stakes involved and the profile of the aggrieved country, this latest sham should be enough for the dinosaurs at FIFA to finally implement goal-line technology. What's amazing is that the world's governing body of the sport stands to rake in an estimated $4 billion off this cash-cow tournament, then leaves its officials hanging out for ridicule by not providing the proper technical assistance.

"It was one of the most important things in the game,' moaned Capello, whose $12 million Cdn a year contract netted one win at this World Cup. "The goal was very important. We could have played a different style. We made some mistakes when they played the counter-attack.

"The referee made bigger mistakes. Little things decide the result always."

As England exit this World Cup, Rooney's failure to deliver a single goal here has to be one of the most disheartening aspects.

Ironically, Argentine striker Diego Milito had waded into the Messi-Rooney debate that very morning.

"When we hear the English or anybody else in the world of football trying to compare Wayne Rooney with Messi, we find it laughable," Milito told the Daily Star. "Rooney is a very good player, there is no doubt about that - but to put him on the same level as Messi is wrong. It's not up for debate, it's just wrong.

"I think Rooney is a very good player, maybe even a top 20 player in the world - but that doesn't make him Messi, it doesn't even make him close to Messi.'

Organizations: FIFA

Geographic location: England, Germany, Bloemfontein Slovenia US Brazil

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