Gotze stunner fells Argentina as Germany lift World Cup
Substitute hits injury time winner as Germany become first Europeans to win in America
A superb extra-time winner from Mario Gotze won the World Cup for Germany at the Maracana stadium last night. It was the fourth time Germany have won the biggest prize in football and the victory means Joachim Low's men are the first European side to claim the trophy in South America.
With the tie seemingly headed for a penalty shoot-out after 113 minutes without a goal, the young Bayern Munich forward produced a moment of sublime skill in the box as he chested down a pass from Andre Schurrle, swivelled and tucked the ball past Sergio Romero with his left foot.
Low revealed that, before sending him on as a second-half substitute, he had told Gotze to outshine Argentine star Lionel Messi. "Show them that you are better and can decide the World Cup," the coach told the 22-year-old – and he did.
Germany had been in a determined mood from the start. Jerome Boateng tackled magnificently all night and Bastian Schweinsteiger simply refused to give up in the face of hefty Argentine challenges which left him bruised and bloodied.
Argentina, who failed to register a genuine shot on target in the entire game, wasted a series of opportunities to take the lead. Gonzalo Higuain was the worst culprit when he screwed his shot wide after going through on goal in the first half. He then had a goal disallowed for offside.
Even Messi fluffed his lines, when he flashed a second-half shot across the goal and in extra time substitute Rodrigo Palacio chipped German keeper Manuel Neuer, only for his effort to sail wide.
Such wasteful form in front of goal can be fatal. The last time Argentina failed to have a shot on target in a World Cup game was in the 1990 final. Their victorious opponents that day? West Germany.
Although Germany were on top, clear cut chances were few and far between and the Europeans' best chance, before the goal, came in first half injury time when Benedikt Howedes hit the post with a header.
Speaking after the final whistle last night, German goalkeeper Neuer, who was named the best keeper at Brazil 2014, said: "We're going to celebrate for at least five weeks now. At some point we'll stop celebrating but we'll always keep waking up with a smile."
As the Germans romped on the field they were watched ruefully by Messi, who had failed to live up to his star billing in the biggest match of his career to date.
Though he was handed the Fifa Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player at the end of the tie, perhaps more symbolic was the moment in which he vomited on the pitch in the first half. The Argentine superstar looked sick as a parrot as he left the field, while the Germans looked like they will be indeed be over the moon for some time to come.