Germany 1 Argentina 0 (ET) : Highlights, key battle and what the result means
Published on Jul 14, 2014 6:17 AM
As old foes Germany and Argentina waged a war of attrition for football's biggest prize, few would have noticed little Mario Goetze coming on as a late substitute at the Maracana.
Now, the 1.76-metre forward is the most famous footballer on the planet, outshining Thomas Mueller and Lionel Messi as the match-winner in the 2014 World Cup final.
A wondrous volley from the Bayern Munich star in the 23rd minute of extra-time settled a tense and tight encounter that Argentina dominated early on but faltered when it mattered.
Die Mannschaft, who were arguably the tournament's most consistent and attractive outfit, became the first European team to lift the splendid gold trophy on South American soil.
- Gonzalo Higuain will look back in agony at his botched effort from just inside the box in the 20th minute. With just Manuel Neuer to beat, the Napoli striker scuffed his drive wide of the mark after pouncing on Toni Kroos' misplaced back-pass.
- Higuain did get the ball in the net on the half-hour mark but the strike was rightly ruled out for offside. The 26-year-old could have timed his run better as he dropped behind the German centre-backs to get on the end of Ezequiel Lavezzi's pin-point cross.
- Left-back Benedikt Howedes had Germany's best chance in normal time, sending his header rattling off the post from six yards. Kroos' trademark long-range drives were no problem for Argentina No. 1 Sergio Romero. The German machine looked in need of some repair after Sami Khedira was injured during the warm-up.
- Joachim Loew's tactical nous proved vital - bringing on a pacey Goetze for veteran targetman Miroslav Klose exposed a tiring Argentinian backline. Fellow substitute Andre Schuerrle beat three men down the left flank before lobbing the ball perfectly to Goetze in the penalty area. He took one touch to chest it down, and the next to glide the ball past a despairing Romero and spark delirium across Germany and Brazil.
Toni Kroos vs Javier Mascherano
This was an all-out war between midfield generals of the highest pedigree. Mascherano needed to be at his harrying best to keep pace with one of Europe's top playmakers.
Space is always a premium in a World Cup final but the duo found ways to drive their team forward while staying solid at the back.
Quite unfairly, only one of them returns home with a winners' medal.
Man of the match
Goetze's name will go down in history, but so should Boateng's as well for a superlative defensive performance.
The Bayern Munich youngster made up for a rare off-night from Mats Hummels, timing tackles and headers to perfection and marshalling his team's offside trap. When Messi dropped deep to get a sniff of the ball, Boateng followed and harassed his visibly frustrated opponent.
What the result means
Germany claimed their fourth World Cup title - and first in 24 years. Boasting a young, hungry and gifted squad, this could be the next great dynasty in world football.
Messi's failure to deliver for his country on the biggest stage will be harped on for the weeks and months to come.
Fellow attackers Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain never were the stellar supporting cast that many had hoped for the Barcelona maestro, who unfairly bears the burden and shame of a football-mad nation.
One wonders if 27-year-old Messi will ever be in better shape and form to launch an assault for the sport's Holy Grail. For now, it remains 'Maradona 1 Messi 0' for World Cup titles.