Germany humiliates Argentina in World Cup quarters

Thomas Mueller scored in the third minute to send Germany off to a complete 4-0 domination of Argentina in their FIFA World Cup quarter-final match.

Maradona's side outclassed from beginning to end

Germany's Thomas Mueller, centre, scored Germany's first goal en route to a convincing 4-0 victory over Argentina Saturday. (Roberto Candia/Associated Press)

No trash talking needed. Germany was just too good for Argentina.

Miroslav Klose scored twice to move into a tie for second on the all-time World Cup scoring list, and Thomas Mueller and Arne Friedrich added goals to give Germany a resounding 4-0 victory in the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday afternoon in Cape Town, South Africa.

As flashbulbs popped, the Germans hugged and high-fived each other before walking around the edge of the field, saluting their fans.

"It was absolute class," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. 

Hard to argue with that.

Injured captain Michael Ballack came down to the field, watching from the bench as his teammates celebrated.

Argentina coach Diego Maradona took a slow walk to midfield, hands jammed in his pockets, while several of his players broke down in tears.

It was a surprisingly meek end for the Argentines, whose dominant run had given fans hope this might be a team capable of reaching the final for the first time since 1990, when Maradona led them on the field.

Instead, it is Germany that will play Spain in the semifinals Wednesday in Durban. This will be Germany's third straight trip to the semis and its 12th overall — no country has more.

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

Argentina and Germany have had a testy relationship since trading World Cup titles in back-to-back finals 20 years ago, and it has been downright ugly lately.

After Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks four years ago, also in the quarter-finals, the two teams exchanged punches and kicks in a scuffle. A few team officials even got involved in the scrape.

Head games not needed

Germany didn't wait for the game to get its digs in this time, with Bastian Schweinsteiger on Wednesday accusing the Argentines of lacking respect for opponents and referees. Captain Philipp Lahm chimed in a day later, essentially calling Argentina a bunch of hotheads.

The trash talking appeared to be carefully orchestrated, intended to ignite Maradona's infamous temper and distract his team. Or, perhaps, to put the refs on notice.

Turns out, Germany didn't even need the head games.

Argentina has been one of the tournament's darlings, with Maradona's every move causing a stir and superstar Lionel Messi showing you don't need to score to be sublime. The Argentines rolled into the quarter-finals as one of only two teams to win its first four games — the Netherlands was the other — and had been so powerful they never trailed.

"I'm as disappointed as all Argentines," said Maradona, who cast doubt on his future as national coach. "To see my country lose a football match is very hard for someone who has worn the shirt."

No wonder there was a star-studded crowd on hand at Green Point Stadium, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mick Jagger, Leonardo DiCaprio and South Africa's own Charlize Theron all spotted in the VIP seats.

But Germany showed that Argentina doesn't have the lock on flair in South Africa.

Its spacing, pace and flat-out stingy defence made the Argentines look out of sorts all afternoon. The Albiceleste didn't get their first shot on goal until the 33rd minute, and any time they appeared on the verge of making something happen, the German defence shut them down.

It was enough to make Maradona clutch his fists in agony, looking as if he were physically pained.

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

Klose, making his 100th appearance for Germany, was simply masterful in the second half. With Germany clinging to a 1-0 lead and unable to get that all-important insurance goal despite several chances in the first 45 minutes, Klose showed the skill that has made him one of the most prolific players in German history.

In the 68th minute, Lukas Podolski crossed the ball from just beyond the box, and Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero and defender Nicolas Burdisso were powerless to stop it as it sliced between them. Klose got control of the ball in front of the goal and effortlessly tapped it into the back of the net for the 2-0 lead.

Klose let out a roar and slid along the goal-line as his teammates ran to congratulate him. Merkel stood up and applauded, accepting congratulations from South African President Jacob Zuma.

And Klose wasn't done. In the last minute of regulation, Klose volleyed in a cross from Mesut Oezil from no more 10 yards. Klose did a somersault while Merkel beamed and the German fans kicked off the post-game party.