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England's failings exposed
Mon, 2010-06-28 12:51
If England carry a burning sense of injustice as part of their baggage on the long flight home from South Africa on Monday night, Fabio Capello and his players will fool only themselves.
Capello's complaint about the incompetence of officialdom after England's humiliating last-16 exit against Germany was little more than a flimsy fig leaf when it came to disguising shortcomings exposed in a World Cup campaign that was a monument to mediocrity.
England's coach, of course, had every right to draw attention to one of the worst decisions in the tournament's history as a mitigating factor in their eventual defeat by a vastly-superior Germany.
Capello must not think, however, that Uruguayan linesman Mauricio Espinosa's failure to spot Frank Lampard's clever finish dropping well behind Manuel Neuer's goalline with the score at 2-1 was a defining moment that somehow blocked England's path to glory.
The course of the game may have been altered had Lampard's goal, moments after Matthew Upson had reduced Germany's two-goal lead, stood. On the other hand, it may not.
Germany will simply regard it as schadenfreude, payback time 44 years on for Sir Geoff Hurst's goal in the 1966 World Cup Final that gave England their first and last win in the tournament.
What is beyond dispute is that England's standing in world football was put into context by the manner in which they were comprehensively dismantled by Germany's speed of thought and limb that left a side that arrived here with so much hope looking lumbering and old.