Germany wins 2014 World Cup with Götze goal
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Mario Götze broke the deadlock in the second half of extra time with a beautiful left kick that hit the back of the net at the 113th minute putting Germany ahead for good, 1-nil, against Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Sunday, July 13 (early Monday, July 14, in Manila).
Argentinian Superstar Lionel Messi had a chance to tie with a free kick late into extra time but his shot went way over the post.
Germany had the advantage in possessions (67% - 33%) showing they had control of the game for the most part, but it was Argentina who had two close opportunities to score in the first half.
Gonzalo Higuaín could have scored the first goal of the match at the 21st minute as he had a virtual one-on-one against Germany keeper Manuel Neuer but his attempt was way off the post.
Higuaín had a chance to redeem himself at the 29th minute when he got the ball at the back of the net but it was called an offside.
At the 36th minute, an attemp by Germany's André Schürrle was blocked by Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero. Argentina nearly scored again at the 39th minute but Jerome Boateng kicked it away with Neuer far from the goalpost.
Higuain earned another offside call early in the second half. Messi then took his first shot at the goal at the 47th minute but it was off target.
Neuer came up with anoter save at the 56th minute punching the ball out before colliding with Higuain. Moments later, Miroslav Klose had a chance to score at the 59th minute but the ball flies straight into the arms of Romero.
Germany's Toni Kroos had a shot just outside of the box at the 81st minute but it was off target.
Klose ended his World Cup campagin after being subbed out at the 88th minute. He holds the record for most goals scored in the World Cup (16) in 24 appearances in the tournament.
Germany came up with a quick shot on the goal but Romero was there again for the save.
First half of extra timed ended with both teams goalless. In the second half, Bastian Schweinsteiger ended up bleeding after being on the receiving end of a chop by Sergio Agüero at the 108th minute, but no foul was called.
It appeared like the match was going into penalties until Götze got a good look sending the ball straight into the back of the net for the winning goal of the World Cup Final.
Four stars for Germany
Germany has now won four World Cups, putting the European powerhouses just one behind Brazil's record tally of five.
The victory was celebrated raucously by Brazilians in the crowd – 74,738 strong at the world-famous Maracana Stadium – who had dreaded the prospect of sworn South American rivals Argentina lifting the title in their backyard.
"It's unbelievable what we have achieved. Whether we have the best individual player doesn't matter at all, you just need to have the best team," said delighted Germany captain Philipp Lahm.
"We improved throughout the tournament and didn't get down when things didn't always go our way, we just stuck to our path and at the end we're standing here as world champions. It's an unbelievable feeling.
"The team stayed calm and patient, we knew that we had something left at the end."
German coach Joachim Loew revealed he had encouraged Götze to eclipse Argentina star Messi when he came on as an 88th minute substitute.
"I told Mario Götze, 'go out and show the world you are better than Messi," he said.
Explosion of joy in Berlin, Rio
Tens of thousands of Argentine fans who had swarmed Rio's Copacabana beach ahead of the game fell silent after the defeat as gleeful Brazilians partied.
"Thank God, thank God that Germany won," said Caio Ferraz, 45, a Brazilian looking up at the stars on the legendary beach.
The dramatic finale came after a month-long footballing carnival widely regarded as one of the best World Cups ever.
Götze's winner equalled the record tally for goals at a 32-team World Cup. The 171 goals from 64 games equalled the number set in France in 1998.
Fittingly, Götze's strike was another memorable effort in a tournament brimming with spectacular individual goals.
Disappointment for Messi
It was a bitterly disappointing end to the tournament for Messi, who was named player of the tournament despite the loss.
But the prize was scant consolation for the 27-year-old four-time world footballer of the year, who had been keen to emulate Maradona by guiding Argentina to the World Cup.
Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella was left ruing his team's missed chances as he reflected on a final defeat which mirrored the South Americans 1-0 loss to Germany in 1990.
"They had more possession, but we had more cutting edge, more chances," lamented Sabella.
"When there are chances in a game that is so evenly balanced, you have to take them. We lacked a bit of efficiency."
Sabella meanwhile defended the contribution of Messi, who failed to conclusively end the debate surrounding his position in the pantheon of football's greats.
"It is a very demanding tournament and it drains everyone physically," Sabella said.
"He is already among the greatest of all time."
Golden Glove for Neuer, Golden Boot for James
Messi's failure to add his tally of four goals in the first phase helped ensure that Colombia's James Rodriguez finished the tournament as top-scorer to win the Golden Boot with six goals.
Germany's Neuer won the Golden Glove award for the tournament's best goalkeeper.
The 28-year-old Bayern Munich player was presented with the award moments after Sunday's triumph.
"It is unbelievable, and an awesome experience," said Neuer.
"Germany are world champions. I don't know how long we will celebrate, but we will go about it with big grins." – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com