RIO DE JANEIRO, July 14 (PNA/Xinhua) — Three-time world champions Germany, who humiliated hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals, edged two-time winners Argentina 1-0 in the extra time of their 2014 FIFA World Cup final here on Sunday.
Germany became the first-ever European side to win the World Cup in the Americas.
Germany have played a tournament-record eighth World Cup finale, having won four and lost as many. Argentina, who last reached this stage 24 years ago, had two wins and three losses.
German substitute forward Mario Goetze, 22, was the hero. In the 88th minute, Goetze replaced veteran striker Miroslav Klose as the crowd — both Argentina and Germany supporters — rose to give the all-time World Cup scoring leader of 16 goals a round of applause.
In the 113rd minute, Gotze did brilliantly to control another substitute forward Andre Schurrle’s cross with his chest and hit it one-time past German keeper Manuel Neuer. The ball found side netting at the far post. Gotze was elected the Man of the Match.
Lionel Messi, the eventual Golden Ball winner, played sharply but failed to score. His free-kick, possibly Argentina’s last chance to equalize, sailed high over the bar on 120 minutes.
Germany boasted 60 percent of possession and 7 attempts on target against Argentina’s two.
Germany’s first scoring chance came in the last seconds of the first half as defender Benedikt Hoewedes’ powerful header on a corner hit the post.
The best chance for Argentina came in the 23rd minute when German midfielder Toni Kroos made a poor header backwards, intended for Neuer, but forward Gonzalo Higuain was the first to get to it and clear in on goal. Unfortunately, Higuain hit wide.
After seven minutes, Higuain slotted in a cross from the right in a fast counterattack, but he was later adjudged to be in offside position.
Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria failed to return to the starting lineup. The Real Madrid midfielder sustained a thigh injury in Argentina’s quarterfinal win over Belgium missed the semifinal against the Netherlands.
Germany midfielder Sami Khedira pulled out of the final shortly before kick-off due to a calf injury, with Christoph Kramer taking his place in the starting lineup.
The loss of Khedira was a huge blow to coach Joachim Loew given the Real Madrid player’s impressive display in the semifinal win.
Khedira was named in Loew’s original starting 11, which was unchanged from the 7-1 semifinal win over Brazil, only for the German Football Association (DFB) to confirm the change moments before the teams came out of the tunnel at the Maracana.
Kramer didn’t last long, suffering from the knock to the head he took earlier on, and Loew was forced to make a change early on in the first half.
The second half witnessed good spells of ball possession in the 70th minute as Howedes, Ozil and Kroos linked up well to create space on the left side. Howedes’ service though was off the mark and went out for a goal-kick.
In the 75th minute, Messi looked to create some space on his own and dribbled across the edge of the area until he had enough room to shoot but he couldn’t curl it enough and it missed wide of the target.
In the 78th minute, Argentine forward Rodrigo Palacio came off the bench to replace Higuain.
Great build-up from Germany in the 82nd minute saw Lahm find Ozil on the far side who looked up and saw Kroos alone at the top of the area. The Bayern Munich man’s low shot missed just wide.
For the third time in a row, the World Cup grand finale went into extra time after neither side could find a winner. (PNA/Xinhua)