Germany clinch 4th World Cup, first Europe nation to win in South America
Published on Jul 14, 2014 5:51 AM
Germany have broken the Latin American World Cup jinx, becoming the first European side to win football's biggest trophy in the region.
Substitutes Mario Goetze and Andre Schuerrle combined in extra time to snatch the only goal of a 1-0 final victory against Argentina, with the latter's cross met expertly by Goetze's chest which was followed by an exquisite volley in the 113rd minute.
It was the fitting finale for the Germans who have been the best and most consistent team at the Brazil World Cup. They have been the best passers, most attractive and registered the shock result of the tournament - that 7-1 win over the hosts.
The match was the third World Cup final in a row that could not be decided in 90 minutes, demonstrating just how tight these occasions are.
A protest by a 300-strong mob caused some distractions ahead of the showpiece final at the Estadio do Maracana. But while questions of Brazil's domestic problems still remain, they will have to be answered another day. The focus on the day was still very much the finale of the world's biggest sporting show.
Both teams had hoped to start with the same players which got them to the final. But while Argentina had that luxury, an injury to Sami Khedira meant Germany coach Joachim Loew was forced to make a change.
So in stepped Christoph Kramer. But the substitute soon had to replaced too, lasting only 31 minutes after colliding with Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay.
But even without their best team on the field, Germany looked the better team, dominating possession early on. But as Argentina has shown in Brazil, they are a side built to sit back and counter, which they did to good effect in the first half.
The first real chance of the match came about because of a rare German mistake. Toni Kroos' back header in the 21st minute put Gonzalo Higuain through on goal. But with only Manuel Neuer to beat and in acres of space, he dragged his shot wide.
Lionel Messi was finding a lot of space on Germany's left side and it was through his runs that almost resulted in the opening goal. Had Higuain delayed his run by a split second in the 30th minute, Argentina would probably have taken the lead. But although he did find the net, the effort was disallowed for offside.
Messi would again break free down the same channel, but this time alert defending by the German backline just prevented Higuain from connecting. By then Argentina had created more chances than they did in the entire semi-final match against the Netherlands - and the 74,738 crowd, including 30,000 Argentinians, were appreciative.
The match had lived up to pre-match predictions as a tight affair. But while the scoreboard did not reflect any goals, both teams had their fair share of chances in the opening exchanges.
Andre Schuerrle, on for the injured Kramer, fired straight at Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero from 20 metres after a good passing move. Miroslav Klose also came close, Thomas Mueller's cross just too high for the World Cup's leading scorer to add to his 16 goals.
Germany did hit the post almost right on half-time through Benedikt Hoewdes' header. Argentina, sensing the match was there to be taken, brought on Sergio Aguero for Ezequiel Lavezzi after half-time.
But a series of fouls and an out of sorts Messi saw the second half struggle to equal the zip the first 45 minutes had about it. A streaker in the 82nd minute provided the loudest cheers of the second half.
Kroos had the chance to be immortalised as he broke free in midfield in stoppage time. But when it called for a grandstand finish, the rising midfield star shot tamely at Romero.
Similarly, Argentina substitute Rodrigo Palacio had a great chance to score early in extra time. But needing an exquisite touch to lift the ball over an onrushing Neuer, he succeeded in only slicing the ball wide.
It was then left to man-of-the-match Goetze to deliver the Germans fourth World Cup title and reaffirm their status as the sport's next superpower.