England's World Cup ended in a mixture of humiliation and controversy as they were thrashed by Germany in Bloemfontein.
Germany's deserved win and convincing victory margin will be overshadowed forever in the minds of Fabio Capello and his squad by a moment they believe robbed them of the hope of reaching the last eight.
Matthew Upson had thrown England a lifeline just before half-time after a vastly superior Germany had taken a stranglehold on the game with goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.
But moments after Upson's header, in a grim echo of Geoff Hurst's goal that helped England to victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, Frank Lampard's superb lofted finish landed feet over the line behind German keeper Manuel Neuer, an incident obvious to almost everyone inside the Free State Stadium.
Capello was leading the England celebrations in his technical area, only to be stunned as Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda and his officials waved play on.
England's players and coaching team, including David Beckham, led vehement protests as the teams went off at half-time, but all to no avail and Germany made the most of their reprieve.
The Germans will feel a measure of justice has been restored 44 years on, but this was of no consolation to the modern-day England as insult was added to injury by Joachim Loew's gifted young side.
Lampard struck the bar as England dominated the early stages of the second half, but stunning counter-attacks saw Thomas Mueller score twice in the space of three minutes midway through the second half to send Germany into the last eight.
England, with some justification, will bemoan their luck but nothing must disguise the manner in which they were outclassed by Germany in stages of this game and also what has been an ultimately bitterly disappointing World Cup campaign in South Africa.
The brief hope of revival offered by victory against Slovenia that saw England advance to the knockout phase was snuffed out emphatically here by their old World Cup adversaries as they suffered their heaviest defeat at a major championship.
England paid the price for sloppy defending that gifted Germany goals - with central defenders John Terry and Upson having their immobility exposed in embarrassing fashion.
Wayne Rooney will return home having had minimal impact on the World Cup, and Capello himself must examine how England can move forward after being handed this painful lesson by Germany.
Capello chose to keep faith with Upson - but the defender was the central figure in a moment of defending that was almost indescribably bad as Germany took the lead after 20 minutes.
Germany keeper Neuer's long clearance was routine, but both Upson and Terry were caught out of position, with the West Ham defender compounding his misjudgement by being brushed aside for Klose to stab home.
England keeper David James, who had earlier saved well from Mesut Ozil, prevented England from falling further behind with a crucial block from Klose as he raced clear, but it was only a temporary reprieve as Germany extended their lead 12 minutes later.
Again England were all at sea defensively, with Podolski left with time and space to score from an angle after Klose and Mueller carved them wide open.
England needed a swift response to at least have some hope of mounting a revival, and it came from Upson as he made amends for his earlier error. He beat the flailing Neuer to Steven Gerrard's cross to head into an unguarded net.
Then came the moment of huge controversy that will haunt England and Capello for years to come. Even from high in the stands at the Free State Stadium, it was clear Lampard's audacious chip had travelled well over the line behind Neuer, but as Capello celebrated, England were stunned to find play waved on.
Lampard's ill-luck continued as England made a purposeful start the second half. He fired in a free-kick from 25 yards, but it rebounded off the bar with the static Neuer beaten.
The danger was always that Germany would strike on the counter attack, and they did to deadly effect as Mueller reopened their two-goal advantage after 67 minutes.
From and England free-kick Gareth Barry lost possession on the edge of Germany's area, allowing them to sweep to the other end for Mueller to fire past James from Bastian Schweinsteiger's pass.
And it was all over three minutes later, with Barry at fault again. He failed to deal with a clearance near the touchline, letting in Ozil to provide Mueller with a simple finish.
England had nothing left to offer and their World Cup campaign ended with a whimper - although they will complain bitterly about the moment they will feel had a decisive effect on the outcome of the game.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
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