RIO DE JANEIRO – Germany became World Cup champion for the fourth time on Sunday night, and the first European team in history to clinch soccer’s greatest prize on South American soil.
It did so courtesy of a winner deep into extra time from substitute Mario Gotze, who displayed a brilliant piece of skill to decide a contest of outstanding quality.
Gotze took a pass from the left from Andre Schurrle in the 113th minute of action, trapped it on his chest and swiveled it past Sergio Romero and into the Argentina net. The goal proved to be enough to give Germany a 1-0 victory
For the second World Cup final in a row scores were level after 90 minutes, but unlike when Spain beat the Netherlands four years ago this was no snoozefest.
It was tense and cagey and royally entertaining. And it was sealed by a 22-year-old who had come on as substitute for Miroslav Klose with just two minutes of regulation time remaining.
Gotze’s strike was the first time Argentina had trailed in the entire tournament and sent his nation into delirium, securing its first world title since 1990.
For Argentina it was agony. Lionel Messi and his team came so close but it wasn’t enough. In the end, the Germans were too strong, too clinical, and in every way the best all-round collection of players at this event.
While Gotze’s goal was the only score of the evening there was action, flow, chances aplenty and a spectacle the sport could be proud of. The finishing was poor, but the quality of play was outstanding.
Argentina had the best early chance, the kind that leaves forwards holding their head if they miss them. This time the unfortunate man was Gonzalo Higuain, who was sent through by an ill-conceived backward header from Germany’s Toni Kroos. But Higuain scuffed his shot completely with only Manuel Neuer to beat.
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