Germany scored five goals in 18 astonishing first-half minutes on their way to a semi-final mauling of Brazil last night which shattered the host nation's hopes of winning a sixth World Cup.

It was the most shocking result in the tournament's history: Brazil's record World Cup defeat and their first at home in 64 competitive matches since 1975.

Germany will meet Argentina or the Netherlands in Sunday's final in Rio de Janeiro after an unbelievable performance in which their striker Miroslav Klose became the tournament's highest scorer of all time with his 16th World Cup goal.

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The only consolation for Brazil after a match featuring some truly abject defending from Luiz Felipe Scolari's men was a goal from Oscar in the dying minutes.

Thomas Mueller began the rout with an 11th-minute volley and, although Germany looked to be the better team after an early period of Brazil pressure, there was little indication of the devastation about to be unleashed. Brazil were playing without their injured forward Neymar and suspended captain and defensive linchpin Thiago Silva, and it was the latter's absence that proved far more costly.

The hosts' defence simply caved in. They conceded four times between the 23rd minute when Klose made it 2-0 and the 29th when Sami Khedira put Germany 5-0 in front. Andrea Schuerrle, who replaced Klose in the 58th minute added two more, the second an angled shot that flew in off the crossbar.

With Germany 1-0 ahead, Klose scored from a rebound after the goalkeeper Julio Cesar saved his initial shot for his 16th goal in his 23rd World Cup appearance. Worse was to follow for Brazil a minute later when Toni Kroos, lurking with intent but unmarked at the edge of the area, smashed home with the outside of his left foot to make it 3-0. He scored again just two minutes to make it 4-0 and Brazil's pain continued when Khedira made it 5-0 after a one-two with Mesut Oezil in the 29th minute.

Any hopes Brazil had of saving the game ended there but to their credit they rallied at the start of the second and forced a series of saves from Germany keeper Manuel Neuer before Schuerrle struck after 69 and 79 minutes. He took the ball from the toe of Mueller for his first, while his second was the pick of the bunch, a sublime pass from Mueller being effortlessly controlled in mid-air by the scorer who guided a sweet half-volley into the keeper's top right-hand corner.

Oezil missed a golden chance for an eighth Germany goal before Oscar's late strike was greeted by an ironic cheer from the stunned home fans, many of who had been in tears before half an hour of the most incredible World Cup game ever played.