Germany outlasted Argentina 1-0 in yesterday’s World Cup final at the Maracana stadium in Rio on the strength of 22 year old German substitute Mario Gotze’s left footed strike in the 113’ minute propelling the Germans to their 4th world cup title.
In a contest that appeared destined for penalty kicks, Gotze struck late, using his chest to bring down a beautiful cross from Andre Schurrle and crushing the tie-breaking game winner passed Argentine keeper Sergio Romero leaving a pro-Argentina crowd stunned at the Maracana.
While the scoreline might indicate the Germans dominated defensively, Argentina had ample quality opportunities. In the 20th minute Bastian Schweinstager mis-struck a header which sailed over defenseman German Jerome Boateng, landing directly on the foot of Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain 10 yards outside the box. With only the keeper to beat, the Napoli man squandered arguably Argentina’s most promising chance. Upon corralling the ball, Higauin sprinted forward and powered a shot 5 yards outside the left post. All the 26 year old could do look on in bewilderment and ponder how he wasted a golden opportunity.
Higuain did find the back of the net in the first half when he beat German Keeper Manuel Neur with a left-footed shot in the box after a perfect ball in from Ezequiel Levezzi in the 30th minute. Higuain’s triumph was ephemeral as he looked back goalward with his teammates only to discover that the referee had ruled him offsides. Higuain's misfortune culminated, coming to a head in the 75th minute when he took a Manuel Neur knee to the head at the edge of the box as the German keeper attempted to clear a potential threat.
Argentina’s last chance took the form of a free kick in the 120’ minute. The preservation of Argentina’s dream of World Cup glory rested on the shoulders of the most scrutinized player in the soccer world, Lionel Messi. It turned out Argentina’s well of Messi dependence had run dry. Number 10 in blue blasted the free kick 10 yards over the bar, and as he scratched his head in frustration German jubilation set in.
As the game dragged on, both sides traded shots as it became obvious the first team to strike would take home the silverware. For Germany, substitute Andre Schurrle had a pair of shots which came within a foot of giving Germany the lead. His most notable attempt came in the 91’ minute when he ripped a shot inside the box directed right at Romero, who raised his glove and stymied the shot.
While the Germans crushed Brazilian dreams last week in their 7-1 romp of the hosts, yesterday they prevented Brazilian nightmares from coming true. The hosts would not suffer through experiencing their loathsome neighbors from the south celebrate on their soil in route to claiming their fourth title and first as a unified Germany.
The Germans championship performance was indicative of the form they had been in all tournament, racking up their third 1-0 victory and fourth shutout of the tournament. All tournament the Germans bent, they became undone, but they never broke. Shockingly, Argentina registered 0 shots on goal and a dominant defensive performance such as this is worthy of the silverware.