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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Mario Goetze scored a superb extra-time winner as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 to become the first European team to win a World Cup held in South America on Sunday.

Bayern Munich star Goetze struck in the 113th minute to finally break Argentina’s resistance as Lionel Messi’s dream of emulating Diego Maradona ended in defeat.

The decisive moment of a World Cup brimming with wonderful goals came with penalties looming in front of 74,738 fans at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana Stadium.

Andre Schuerrle burst clear down the left flank and crossed for Goetze.

The 22-year-old took the ball on his chest and then volleyed past Sergio Romero to spark delirium amongst the largely pro-German crowd.

Argentina and Messi were left squandering a handful of gilt-edged chances, including one that fell to Messi in the second half.

Messi was largely anonymous for most of the evening and his miserable evening was summed up when a late free-kick to equalize sailed over the bar.

The victory was celebrated raucously by Brazilians in the crowd, who had dreaded the prospect of sworn South American rivals Argentina lifting the title in their backyard.

An absorbing first half saw Germany forced into a reshuffle moments before kick-off with inexperienced Christoph Kramer replacing Sami Khedira after the Real Madrid star injured a calf in the warm up.

With Bastian Schweinsteiger running midfield the Germans laid siege to Argentinian territory, passing smoothly and denying Messi a route into the game.

Yet for all Germany’s early dominance they created little in the way of clear chances.

And it was Argentina who were presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring.

Toni Kroos misdirected a header back to Manuel Neuer to send Gonzalo Higuain racing through on goal.

But with only Neuer to beat the Napoli striker dragged his shot wide to disbelief from fans and team-mates.

Germany continued to probe for openings, and a Philipp Lahm pass almost put Thomas Mueller clear.

The pace of Argentina on the counter-attack continued to unsettle Germany however.

Schweinsteiger picked up a yellow card for bringing down Ezequiel Lavezzi just after the half hour mark.

Moments later, Argentina had the ball in the net only to see the goal disallowed for offside.

Messi released Lavezzi down the right who swept in a low cross for Higuain who drilled his finish past Neuer before wheeling away in delight.

Higuain’s roar of celebration was cut short however after Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli whistled, correctly, for offside.

Germany’s personnel problems deepened when Khedira’s replacement Kramer himself limped off, prompting the introduction of Andre Schuerrle.

The Germans remained unfazed by the setback however, and quickly set about reimposing their control of the game.

Schuerrle drew a fine near-post save from Romero on 37 minutes with a rasping shot after Mueller’s cutback.

But the latent threat of Messi meant Germany could never entirely relax.

Messi burst away down the right and raced into the box, toe-poked past Neuer only for Jerome Boateng to clear.

On the stroke of half-time Benedikt Hoewedes came within inches of scoring, crashing a header from a Kroos corner against the post.

The second half followed a similar pattern, Germany controlling possession but Argentina often threatening on the break.

Messi squandered another golden Argentinian chance two minutes after the restart, latching onto a pass from Lucas Biglia but scuffing his shot wide of Neuer.

The hard-fought nature of the contest led to a flurry of cards from referee Rizzoli, who cautioned Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero in quick succession for fouls on Miroslav Klose and Schweinsteiger.

The remainder of the half saw neither stride able to get on top.

Germany controlled possession without really testing Romero, while Argentina were unable to pass a German defence superbly marshalled by Mats Hummels and Boateng.

Schuerrle came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first period of extra-time, forcing Romero into a desperate block.

Penalties looked to be the likeliest outcome, but Goetze had other ideas.

AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys

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  • dtgraham

    Ich bin ein grosse Fan des Deutsch-Fussball Nationalmannschaft seit 1982. Das ist genug weltcup verluste. Sie muesste gewonnen. Deutschland! Deutschland!

    I’ve been rooting for that team since the early eighties for no particular reason, as I’m not even German. I’ve seen them lose enough in the World Cup final over the decades. Nice to see them finally win in the end. Nobody has ever won more consistently overall than they have. It’s just a question of finally winning the championship game. Good to see them do it.

  • Dominick Vila

    Great game, and a well deserved victory for Germany. Argentina played very well, and should be proud of what they achieved, but their reliance on individual players, and the absence of di Maria, doomed their chances against a team that plays as team rather than relying on super stars.

    • dtgraham

      They’ve got stars Dominick but as you noted, don’t have to rely on them so much due to such efficient, disciplined, systematic play and incredible depth. Sami Khedira was injured in the pre match warmup and was replaced by Christoph Kramer, who in turn got injured early in the game. So in comes Andre Shuerle for Kramer and they carry right on. Dynamic young Marco Reuss would have been selected for that team as would Mario Gomez, were it not for injuries to them too.

      • Dominick Vila

        The German national team has outstanding players, and deserved winning the World Cup. Ozil also had an excellent game.
        My comment about reliance on super stars refers to people like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Balotelli and a few others who earn incredibly high salaries and dominate the sports news in Europe. In my opinion, most are past their prime, are spoiled by the attention and huge amounts of money they earn, and are more interested in staying healthy to prolong their sport’s life than representing their country the way the German players did. What impressed me the most about the German team was their teamwork. There was no selfishness and no prima donna tantrums. They gave it their all and were, without a doubt, the best team in the tournament. I also liked the way the Netherlands played. Especially Robben, Van Persie, and Snijder. Brazil was horrible. Argentina played very well and deserved their second place, but they, and other major teams, must learn to rely on teamwork instead of individual players.

        • dtgraham

          You really follow the sport. You know your stuff. The teamwork…you nailed it there. Look at the percentage of completed passes and time of possession for the Germans in each of those games. It tells the story. It’s so vital in that sport. It’s so difficult for one player to do it all by himself on any one “play”, as in other team sports. I think it was Bastien Schweinsteiger who said earlier in the tournament that no one complained about lack of playing time. Everyone seemed happy just to be there, support their teammates, and make whatever contribution they were asked to make. Even he noticed it, as did you. Lukas Podolski is a big time striker for Schalke but hardly saw the pitch, yet he was all smiles with Joachem Loew and the others after Sunday’s game.

          I’ve always liked Holland as my second team and have to acknowledge Robben’s amazing quickness and skills even if I hate his diving. The Korean corner grocery store owner, where I live, is a big fan of Arjen Robben too and thinks the Dutch play similar to the Germans in style.

          • Dominick Vila

            There are similarities between the German and Dutch styles of play and, especially, their determination to win.
            The emphasis that professional teams in Spain, Italy, and England pay on winning is an entirely different matter. Instead of developing the skills of young native players, they prefer a quick buck approach, and pay fortunes to skilled players to get as many commercial endorsements and the highest attendance possible. I watch Spanish and English games frequently. An example of what I just said can be found in the Real Madrid staff, which depends on Ronaldo (Portuguese), Benzema (French), and Bale (Scottish) to win games and tournaments, The same is true for F.C. Barcelona, which depends on Messi (Argentinian), Neymar (Brazilian), Dani Alves (Brazilian) and other foreign players to win championships such as UEFA. The sme is true for Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and other major English teams.
            There are some German and Dutch players playing abroad, but most of the players in German and Dutch teams are either natives or naturalized.
            The end result is that they are developed and prepared to represent their countries, and they learn how to play with each other, even when they are in different teams. Add money to the equation, and regional fragmentation, and some of the countries I mentioned above will be hard pressed to win a World Cup for many years to come.