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Germany routs Argentina for place in semifinals

CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Don't mess with Germany, on or off the field.

Miroslav Klose scored twice to move into a tie for second on the all-time World Cup scoring list, and Germany backed up its pre-game trash talk with an emphatic 4-0 rout of Argentina in the quarterfinals Saturday.

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

Argentina had been one of the tournament's darlings, with coach Diego 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 quarterfinals as one of only two teams to win all its games - the Netherlands was the other - and had been so powerful they never trailed.

But Germany overwhelmed the Argentines, and shut down Messi. The reigning FIFA world player of the year leaves South Africa without a goal, and was in tears after the game.

"He played a great World Cup," Maradona said. "And I tell you, to see Messi cry in the dressing room, whoever says that he doesn't feel pride for his shirt is stupid."

Maradona was equally devastated. He walked slowly to midfield with his hands jammed in his pockets when the game ended, and couldn't muster any energy or enthusiasm at his news conference.

"I'm as disappointed as all Argentinians," 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."

Germany will play Spain, a 1-0 winner over Paraguay, in the semifinals Wednesday (2:30 p.m. EDT, ESPN) in Durban. This will be Germany's third straight trip to the semis and its 12th overall - nobody has more.

Argentina and Germany have had a testy relationship since trading World Cup titles in back-to-back finals 20 years ago, and it's been downright ugly lately. After Germany eliminated Argentina on penalty kicks four years ago, also in the quarterfinals, the two teams exchanged punches and kicks in a scuffle.

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.

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

"Are you joking?" Maradona said when asked if he was satisfied with his team's performance. "This is a country where you live and breathe football. I don't think that any will be happy when the team loses 4-0."

Germany's spacing, pace and stingy defense made the Argentines look out of sorts. Klose, making his 100th appearance for Germany, was simply masterful in the second half. With Germany leading 1-0, Klose got control of the ball in front of the goal and effortlessly tapped it in for a 2-0 lead. In the last minute of regulation, he volleyed in a cross from Mesut Oezil.

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