Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time as Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner beat Argentina in the 2014 World Cup final.
Gotze demonstrated perfect technique and commendable calm to chest down Andre Schurrle’s pass and sweep in a left-foot finish with the prospect of a penalty shootout only seven minutes away. Argentina, with skipper Lionel Messi looking subdued despite flashes of his talent, could not respond and Germany claimed their first World Cup since they beat the same opponents in Rome 24 years ago.
The success means Joachim Low’s side have become the first European team to win the trophy in South America. Germany had to regroup after losing key midfielder Sami Khedira to injury in the warm-up – and his replacement Christoph Kramer to a blow to the head before half-time – but they shrugged off these setbacks to write another triumphant chapter in their sporting history.
Argentina’s fans were the vast majority of a crowd that created a vibrant atmosphere inside the Maracana – although Germany were well represented and had the support of many yellow-clad Brazil supporters who still turned up despite seeing their hopes of watching the hosts in the World Cup final dashed by that stunning semi-final beating at the hands of Germany.
German supporters stayed in their places more than an hour after the final whistle as the victorious side indulged in lengthy celebrations of a win that vindicated the rebuilding plan put in place when they suffered the humiliation of going out of Euro 2004 at the group stage, which resulted in then coach Rudi Voller’s resignation.
Germany had reached the semi-finals of the previous two World Cups but have now managed the crowning achievement for coach Low, who not only brought the trophy back to Germany, but also ended Europe’s grim record in this tournament on South American soil.
Argentina failed to have a shot on target in the entire game and four-time world player of the year Messi looked an increasingly jaded figure as the game went on.
The Barcelona star never stopped striving to carry his team over the line in the manner achieved by his great predecessor Diego Maradona, who inspired them to their last World Cup when they beat Germany in Mexico City in 1986. Gonzalo Higuain wasted Argentina’s best chance in the first half while Germany defender Benedikt Howedes hit the post with a header seconds before half-time.