• Gallery: The World Cup final
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Mario Goetze’s wonderstrike has delivered Germany its fourth World Cup in one of the great finals in modern history.
It took the substitute’s incredible volley to separate Germany and Argentina deep into extra time after they found themselves deadlocked 0-0 after 90 dizzying minutes.
For Germany, this was the finest of its four victories. The win made it the first European team to win on South American soil and came on top of a stunning 7-1 defeat over host nation, Brazil, to make the final.
For Argentina, it was a cruel fate. They will rue a number of chances that went begging, denying them the sweetest of prizes – a World Cup win on the home soil of regional rival Brazil.
The game started at a bewildering pace. It was end-to-end stuff.
Germany’s Mesut Ozil dominated early on, inviting the likes of Muller and Schweinsteiger to get forward. They were banging on the door like angry debt collectors, but couldn’t find a way through.
All that artistry without a payday can leave you a pauper. That was almost the case midway through the first half when the big Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain found himself one-on-one with German ‘keeper Manuel Neuer after an errant header.
Higuain stared the World Cup in the eyes and blinked. His shot went wide and at that moment you sensed Argentina may have missed their chance.
There were further chances early in the second half, and the great Lionel Messi had the best of them.
Freed down the left-hand side, he raced into the penalty area and drove the ball wide of Neuer’s goal.
For the Barcelona star, such goals are like brushing his teeth or doing the dishes. But it wasn’t to be.
Messi was always dangerous. But, in the end, despite his individual brilliance it remains a team game.
Germany had any number of players who worked their magic. Messi was too often left to weave his magic alone.
As the game closed in on 90 minutes, both teams sensed that extra time would be required and played cautiously.
German coach Joachim Loew decided to make the change, substituting the tireless Miroslav Klose for the pint-sized Goetze. Klose received a fitting ovation for the most successful scorer in World Cup finals history.
It proved to be a masterstroke.
As the game crept into extra time, the stakes became higher and the contest even more fierce.
Schweinsteiger absorbed the punishment for Germany, putting himself in harm’s way on numerous occasions for crucial interceptions and receiving a cut below his right eye for his troubles.
This game didn’t deserve to be settled by penalties.
Andre Schurrle found some space on the left-hand side to provide the cross for Goetze.
It took immense skill and unfathomable calm to chest the ball down and find the back of the net as he went to ground.
But that is what separates World Cup winners from the rest.
Germany now stand alone at football’s summit. Their planning, resilience, self-belief, technique and style are what makes this game beloved around the world.
Champions not just for Germany, but for the World Game.
— Austin Hunt (@iAustinHunt) July 13, 2014