Germany went into their World Cup quarter-final clash with Argentina in 2010 having thrashed England 4-1 in the last 16 and hopes were high back home that Joachim Low's team could win their first Jules Rimet trophy in 20 years.
As for Argentina, after progressing through a comfortable-looking group, they got the better of Mexico in the second round as coach Diego Maradona looked to complete the unique double of winning the tournament as a player and a manager.
Both teams went into the match in Cape Town unchanged from their previous contests, with Lionel Messi able to take his place in the Argentina starting lineup after recovering from a slight fever and Miroslav Klose winning his 100th cap for Germany in attack.
Germany got off to the perfect start by taking the lead as early as the third minute. Bastian Schweinsteiger's free kick found the head of Thomas Muller, but Sergio Romero made a meal of the set piece and the ball ricocheted into the net.
The opening exchanges continued to be dominated by Germany, but Argentina were always a threat on the counter-attack and Angel di Maria missed the opportunity to find one of three men at the back post after breaking clear down the flank.
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Lukas Podolski was proving to be equally effective down the left flank for Germany, but after the Cologne attacker had cut into onto his right foot, he saw his 18-yard effort deflected wide of Romero's post.
Germany should have doubled their advantage midway through the first half through Klose, but after Muller had burst down the right before pulling the ball back for the 32-year-old, the Bayern Munich striker could only divert his shot high over the crossbar.
Argentina came back into the game as the half progressed, with Messi seeing one strike marginally clear the bar, but when in possession of the ball in midfield, Germany frequently broke with blistering speed, and another counter-attack resulted in Podolski firing a shot inches past the far post.
Argentina returned for the second half with much more urgency and intent, and after he had seen a left-footed attempt bring a fine save out of Manuel Neuer, Di Maria turned provider for Carlos Tevez, who had a volley bravely blocked by Per Mertesacker.
The majority of offensive play continued to come from the South Americans, with Neuer being equal to shots from Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain, but Argentina were made to pay for their missed chances as Germany took control in the final quarter of the game.
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Their second goal came through Klose, who benefited from Muller and Podolski combining inside the penalty area before the ball was played across the six-yard box for the striker to tap home his 13th goal at a World Cup finals.
Argentina were visibly deflated after Klose's goal, but it continued to get worse for Maradona's men as Germany netted a third through Arne Friedrich, who bundled the ball into the net after Schweinsteiger had evaded a couple of challenges on the right side of the pitch.
Despite the game being over as a contest, Germany found the energy to press forward at will, and after Toni Kroos had witnessed Romero palm his 25-yard effort away from goal, Low's team capped off a stunning display with a fourth goal in the final minute of normal time.
Podolski released Mesut Ozil down the left-hand side, and after biding his time, he floated the ball in for Klose to volley into the corner to move him one behind Brazil forward Ronaldo in the all-time list of goals scored at a World Cup.
Germany's win saw them progress through to a last-four showdown with Spain, but they were second best against their European compatriots and a Carles Puyol header was enough for the eventual winners of the competition to earn their spot in the final.