Germany wins fourth World Cup

July 14, 2014
German players celebrate with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

German players celebrate with the trophy after the World Cup final soccer match between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Germany won the match 1-0. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Germany won its fourth World Cup title, another one at the expense of Argentina, as Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner sank the resilient South American side led by Lionel Messi.

The final at Estadio Maracana seemed destined for a penalty shootout before Gotze perfectly gathered an Andre Schurrle cross with his chest and swept in a left footer in the 113th minute.

Argentina, visibly deflated, failed to respond in the remaining seven minutes as the Germans claimed their first world championship since they beat the same opponents in Rome in 1990.

Joachim Low’s side is the first European team to win the trophy in South America and accomplished the feat impressively, including a 7-1 semi-final drubbing of host Brazil.

Argentina was left to rue missed opportunities. Gonzalo Higuain came closest to scoring for Argentina in the 20th minute when he intercepted a Toni Kross header intended for German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer near the box. But the Napoli forward missed the wide-open chance by dragging his shot left.

Nine minutes later, Higuain celebrated wildly after slotting home an Ezequiel Lavezzi cross, not realizing the offside flag was up. Replays showed Higuain was clearly offside.

After weathering Argentina’s ferocious rally out of the gate, the Germans fought back, winning the lion’s share of possession and creating their own chances.

Schurrle, who came on for a seemingly concussed Christoph Kramer in the 32nd minute, unleashed a blazing right-footer that needed an acrobatic save from Sergio Romero.

Near the end of the first half, German defender Denedikt Howedes rose unmarked from a corner, but his header bounced off the post.

Messi blew a critical chance minutes after the interval when he latched on to a through ball and skipped clearly into the box, only to miss his left-footer by inches.

As the second half progressed, the game became scrappier. A controversial moment came when Neuer kneed Higuain in the face while punching the ball away. But the referee blew for a foul against Higuiain, who was later replaced by Rodrigo Palacio.

Schurrle and Kroos failed to convert their chances and a fatigued Messi looked increasingly ineffective as the orchestrator of Argentina’s offense as the game slipped into extra time.

And with seven minutes to go, Gotze delivered the knockout blow.

For Germany, the win ended a series of near misses since winning its last major title at the 1996 European Championship. The team lost the 2002 World Cup final to Brazil and lost the semi-finals in 2006 and 2010.

“It’s incredible. The team did it beautifully,” said Neuer, who was voted the tournament’s best goalkeeper. “At some point we’ll stop celebrating but we’ll still wake up with a smile.”

 

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