2010 FIFA World Cup: Frank Lampard No-Goal Pays 44-Year Debt To Germany

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2010 FIFA World Cup: Frank Lampard No-Goal Pays 44-Year Debt To Germany
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Facing a 2-1 deficit against the Germans on Sunday, England's Frank Lampard took a pass from forward Jermain Defoe near the top of the box and struck a nifty chip shot up and over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

With Neuer diving helplessly backward, the ball nicked the underside of the crossbar and down—close to the goal line, but clearly over it. Those are the facts, regardless of the ruling the game's referees then made to the contrary...

No goal.

Neuer hastily scooped the ball up. Play went on, with Germany regaining their attacking vigor en route to a decisive 4-1 triumph.

Lampard, at first ecstatic about what he (and the millions watching live and on TV) had seen, looked sick to his stomach. Commentators worldwide seized on the moment as a miscarriage of justice and a case-in-point argument for implementing video replay at the top level of world soccer.

Meanwhile, the members of West Germany's 1966 runners-up side could have a well-deserved chuckle. After 44 years, the English had finally fleshed out the ghost goal that won them their only World Cup.

That year, the two teams were level at 2-2 at the end of regulation. Eleven minutes into extra time, England striker Geoff Hurst took a pass from midfielder Alan Ball, turned, and fired a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar behind keeper Hans Tilkowski.

Sound familiar?

The ball bounced down, close to the goal line, and was cleared by a German defender before Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst and Soviet linesman Tofik Bakhramov stopped play to confer. On Bakhramov's evidence, they awarded England a goal.

(Asked, on his deathbed, how he had been sure it was a goal, Bakhramov replied: "Stalingrad.")

Ironically, video evidence studied by engineers at England's own Oxford University has since proved that Hurst's shot landed a few inches short of being a true goal. For 44 years, the Three Lions' lone championship amidst a history of heartbreak has rested on one Soviet's lingering World War II resentment and the illusion of a score.

England and sports analysts may cry foul, Lampard may feel hard done-by, and onlookers worldwide may believe themselves defrauded of a well-struck goal.

On the balance, though, the Germans were owed one.

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