Götze strikes as Germany win fourth World Cup in Rio
Sublime extra-time winner sees Joachim Löw’s side triumph over Argentina
Germany’s Mario Götze scores the winner past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero as Ezequiel Garay looks on at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: David Gray / Reuters
Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger lifts the World Cup trophy after the 2014 final between Germany and Argentina at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
Argentina’s Lionel Messi frustrated during the Fifa World Cup 2014 final defeat to Germany at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Photograph: EPA
Thomas Müller of Germany stretches for a cross during the 2014 Fifa World Cup final between Germany and Argentina at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Lionel Messi (10) and Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina attempt to shoot as Jerome Boateng of Germany clears the ball off the line in the 2014 Fifa World Cup final at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
Germany’s Mario Götze scores the winner past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero as Martin Demichelis (left) and Ezequiel Garay look on at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: David Gray / Reuters
It came later, much later, than the one that decided the final they fought out in Rome’s Olympic stadium 24 years ago, but the manner of the Mario Götze extra time winner that delivered Germany’s fourth world title seemed every bit as fitting.
If Andreas Brehme’s penalty had brought a controversial end to an ugly game back then, the 22 year-old’s sweeping finish here decided a game in which both side aspired to something a good deal higher.
Argentina deserve much credit for the way they played but their opponents were worthy winners. They were popular ones too with the Brazilian fans, supposedly neutrals, spared a Maracanazo II, one to go with their own infamous defeat at this fabled football stadium back in 1950.
The locals celebrated with more relief and perhaps a little less joy than their new German friends as the goal flew home and, seven minutes later, the final whistle sounded.
Everywhere else, it seemed, Argentines stood and stared into space in despair.
Their side had defended resolutely for so long through a good if not quite great game and Götze’s strike, in fact, brought to an end a run of 486 minutes without conceding for a team that was supposed to come here and score its way to victory.
Instead, they didn’t manage a single shot on target here and it was the Germans who went out and seized victory. For much of the match, the quality of their finishing fell well whort of what it had been in some previous games but Götze’s was sublime with the young star brilliantly controlling Andre Schürrle’s cross from the left with his chest before powering a volley past Sergio Romero on the turn.
Lionel Messi, so closely attended to throughout, simply couldn’t produce the individual brilliance required to save his team and fluffed his last chance from a free-kick 25 metres out before looking to the heavens in the sure knowledge his side was beaten and his own dream dead.
It was a remarkable end to a memorable game.
Joachim Löw, for whom the victory is a huge personal vindication, had suffered one setback before kick-off when Sami Khedira failed a fitness test on a calf strain, and another half an hour in, when his replacement Christoph Kramer, making his first ever competitive international start, was led away in a daze having somehow played on for a spell after being on the receiving end of a clattering from Ezequiel Garay.
Kramer had done quite well up until then but scarcely looked as though he knew where he was as he left the field. Toni Kroos, on the other hand, seemed to be struggling from the outset with the Bayern Munich midfielder, so ruthlessly effective against Brazil on Tuesday night, completely at sea over the early stages here.