Frank Lampard ghost goal: How did officials miss England star's shot crossing the line?

  • Kobe Tong
Lampard's shot crosses the line.

Frank Lampard’s infamous ‘ghost goal’ vs Germany crossed the line 12 years ago today.

On June 27, 2010, in Bloemfontein, England looked to have saved their World Cup hopes by bringing themselves back level having trailed 2-0 to Germany during their round of 16 clash.

Die Mannschaft had put on an absolute masterclass in the opening half-hour in South Africa with goals from Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski looking to compound Fabio Capello’s miserable first tournament in charge of the Three Lions.

Lampard’s ghost goal vs Germany

However, the dying embers of the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ looked to have pulled something out of the fire when Matthew Upson pulled one back and Lampard look to have bagged another.

But we all know how that particular story ends with England ultimately being denied by the lack of goal-line technology, leaving the door ajar for Germany to eventually run away 4-1 victors.

Now, most fans would probably still argue that Germany would have gone on to win the game anyway even if Lampard’s goal had been given, but it nevertheless continues to bug England fans wondering: what could have been?

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After all, the controversial incident proved crucial in FIFA’s eventual decision to introduce goal-line technology, which would be on display for the world to see at the following tournament in Brazil.

But even in a world where the Hawk-Eye technology was flat-out impossible to build, supporters would still be asking questions as to why the referee and linesman got the decision wrong on the day.

Besides, you can’t help wondering when you watch the replay of Lampard’s shot bouncing miles behind Manuel Neuer and over the line how the officials possibly managed to miss that there had been a goal.

Lampard at the 2010 World Cup.
Football – Germany v England FIFA World Cup Second Round – South Africa 2010 – Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa – 27/6/10 England’s Frank Lampard Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Scott Heavey Livepic

The referee and linesman’s point of view

And that very subject of confusion was only amplified in the immediate aftermath of the game when the ITV called upon their technology to take a closer look at the referee and linesman’s point of view.

Once you see the ITV simulation plotting the officials’ position and potential eyeline, the situation can’t help feeling even more gut-wrenching for how good their views of the goal mouth actually were.

So much so, in fact, that we’re surprised that the illustration has become a forgotten part of the match-day coverage all these years later. Be sure to check it out for yourselves down below:

What on earth went so wrong that both the referee and linesman couldn’t see Lampard’s shot crossing the line despite having such good vantage points? Well, the answer is even more frustrating.

How did the officials miss the goal?

According to the Mirror, the comedy of errors was down to the fact that referee Jorge Larrionda was distracted by a tackle in front of him just seconds before Lampard took aim and assistant referee Mauricio Espinosa was busy tracking the German defensive line for potential offsides.

In fact, Espinosa himself actually came out and explained the incident during an interview with El Pais, saying: “It was a very fast shot that I did not see properly, even though I was located in the right place.

“We didn’t see a replay in the dressing room at half-time but you could sense what had happened. It was only when we saw the TV that we realised what happened.

“I feel quite sad about it because we had prepared for such a long time for the World Cup. It could have happened to anyone, unfortunately it was us. You just have to accept it. Life goes on.”

England's Lampard vs Germany.
Football – Germany v England FIFA World Cup Second Round – South Africa 2010 – Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa – 27/6/10 England’s Frank Lampard looks dejected at the end of the match after they failed to qualify for the quarter finals Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Peter Cziborra Livepic

That can’t help making the ITV’s graphic even more painful to see because the simple fact of the matter is that the referee and linesman really were in the right spot at the right time to identify the goal.

But humans are humans. Each one of us makes mistakes and that includes referees, believe it or not.

While officials can so often be the sport’s pin cushion for abuse, the reality is that they’re just as fallible as you and I, which is exactly why goal-line technology was such a necessary addition to the game.

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And it would have taken that, or the stars aligning ever so differently for Larrionda and Espinosa to make the most of their vantage points, to have ensured that Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ gave up the ‘ghost’.

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