Germany on top of the world

Germany have won the World Cup after Mario Gotze’s superb extra-time strike ended Argentina’s hopes in the final at the Maracana.

In a game high on entertainment but low on chances, neither side were able to make the breakthrough until seven minutes from the end.

Argentina 0-1 Germany (AET)

2014 FIFA World Cup final
Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Sunday 13 July 2014

But when it came it was a peach: Gotze volleying homer to ensure Joachim Low’s side lifted the trophy for the first time since 1990.

Germany came into the game with the boost of knowing the locals would be supporting them, too.

They may have thrashed Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final between the sides but Brazil’s fans were desperate to avoid having to watch Argentina win the title on their turf.

They booed every touch Lionel Messi took, but Argentina should have been in front early on.

Benedikt Howedes,left, flashes a header wide

Benedikt Howedes flashes a header wide

It was a woeful header by Toni Kroos that gave them the chance, the midfielder looking to head the ball back to Manuel Neuer but failing to realise Gonzalo Higuain was ready and waiting.

The striker took his time but fired horribly wide from just inside the area with only the goalkeeper to beat.

It was a poor miss, and Higuain’s day went from bad to worse as he steered home Ezequiel Lavezzi’s low cross and celebrated wildly – only to turn and see the offside flag had been raised.

Germany were putting together intricate passing moves but were unable to make any real inroads.

Lionel Messi pulls away from Mats Hummels

Lionel Messi pulls away from Mats Hummels

Yet they came within inches of taking the lead just before half-time as Benedikt Howedes met Kroos’s corner and was unlucky as it hit the post, Mesut Ozil unable to turn home the rebound.

The second half continued to run from end to end as Messi came to the party, firing a low drive inches past Neuer’s post after Lucas Biglia’s fine pass had put him in the clear.

Neuer was fortunate to stay on the pitch when he careered into Higuain as the striker chased a long through-ball, and the game petered out a little after that moment.

Rodrigo Palacio had a wonderful chance when Mats Hummels slipped to allow him through on goal, but with Neuer charging out he could only chip the ball wide of the target.

Manuel Neuer clatters into Gonzalo Higuain

Manuel Neuer clatters into Gonzalo Higuain

Neither side seemed quite sure whether to go for the jugular or wait for penalty kicks, but with seven minutes remaining Germany made their move.

Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle broke clear down the left and chipped an inch-perfect cross into the area for Gotze to run on to.

There was still a huge amount to do but the Bayern Munich man did it superbly, controlling the ball on his chest before volleying home in almost the same movement, giving goalkeeper Sergio Romero no chance.

It was a goal fit to win any game and Germany celebrated wildly. And there were more to come when the final whistle blew, confirming Germany as world champions for the fourth time in their illustrious history.

Mario Gotze volleys home Germany

Mario Gotze volleys home Germany’s extra-time winner