SUPER MARIO, UBER GERMANS Sub Gotze scores game-winner as Germany becomes first Euro side to win World Cup in the Americas
WORLD CUP FINAL
GERMANY 1, ARGENTINA 0
(after extra time)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Mario Gotze provided the heroics for Germany, which in turn supplied the history.
Gotze, a second-half substitute, connected for the game-winner in the 113th minute to lift the Germans to a 1-0 victory over Argentina and to their fourth World Cup title at Maracana Stadium on Sunday.
Germany became the first European country to win a World Cup in the Americas, before 74,738 spectators and an international television audience that was estimated at two billion. The Germans also won soccer's most coveted prize in 1954, 1974 and 1990 (all as West Germany).
Gotze finally broke the deadlock midway through the second extra time period. The Germans made a fine build-up on the left side, Andre Schurrle, another sub, made a superb run and sucked three defenders toward him. He managed to get off a cross that Gotze chested and volleyed home from seven yards past goalkeeper Sergio Romero to the far right post.
Gotze had come on for Miroslav Klose, the all-time World Cup scoring leader (16 goals) in the 88th minute. It was his 11th international goal and the most important one of his career.
Three minutes into stoppage time in the second extra time, Lionel Messi had one last opportunity to equalize for the South Americans, but his 32-yard free kick sailed over the crossbar. About a minute later, time was called and Germany made history. The only South American team to win in Europe was Brazil in Sweden in 1958.
Before the opening kickoff, Germany already had suffered a loss when midfielder Sami Khedira was pulled from the Starting XI with a calf injury; Khedira was replaced by Christoph Kramer.
And, as feared, Angel Di Maria, who had a thigh injury, did not start for the Argentines and did not see any action.
Despite the loss of Di Maria, the South American side dominated the opening 45 minutes, pushing forward and making the Germans sweat a few times. Gonzalo Higuain had Argentina's two best scoring chances of the first half. He missed a sitter after a rather dubious header by Toni Kroos back to goalkeeper Manuel Neuer in the 21st minute. Higuain ran onto the errant ball, but he somehow managed to miss the target and the score remained 0-0.
Nine minutes later, Higuain thought he had given his side a one-goal advantage with a celebration after connecting from seven yards, but he was ruled to be offside by assistant referee Andrea Stefani of Italy.
And while Messi wasn't able to find the back of the net, he still spearheaded the attack with hard runs down the right wing.
The Germans had their moments as well, especially when Schurrle fired a hard shot that goalkeeper Romero blocked with a reaction save on the left near post in the 37th minute. Six minutes prior, Schurrle had come on for the injured Kramer, who had been whacked in the jaw five minutes prior.
Messi came close to scoring in the 40th minute, but defender Jerome Boateng cleared his attempt from the right side off the line.
Klose headed a Kroos corner over the crossbar in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. A minute later on yet another corner, a Benedikt Howedes header bounded off the right post. Muller, however, was ruled to be offside while he tried to get the rebound.
At halftime, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella decided to make his first substitution, pulling Ezequiel Lavezzi for Sergio Aquero, the son-in-law of Diego Maradona, the standout performer of Argentina's 1986 World Cup triumph.
Two minutes after the interval Messi was at it again, racing into the area on the right side, taking a pass and firing a shot that wide right of the net.
In the 56th minute, referee Nicola Rizzoli of Italy appeared to have made a mistake when he failed to award Argentina a throw-in. Neuer collided with Higuain at the right edge of the penalty area when both players were going for the ball. Rizzoli ruled that the Argentine fouled the German goalkeeper though it appeared to be a 50-50 situation.
Klose had a close encounter in the 59th minute as he headed a right-wing cross from right back Philipp Lahm to Romero at the far left post.
Within a short span, Argentina was slapped with a pair of yellow cards by Rizzoli. Midfielder Javier Mascherano was given one for a hard tackle on Klose at midfield in the 64th minute, and only a minute later, Aguero was awarded another for fouling Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Schweinsteiger (29th minute) and Hoewedes (34th) had been given cards in the opening 45 minutes.
Messi, who had not had an opportunity to get a good kick of the ball in almost a half-hour, finally got one in the 75th minute. He tried to find some room outside of the penalty area, running from right to left. When he found some, he launched a shot that sailed wide left. Higuain did not get a chance for another scoring opportunity as he was replaced by Rodrigo Palacio in the 78th minute.
The Germans had a nice series of passes in a quick build-up in the 82nd minute. The ball finally found Kroos, but the midfielder could not get much power on his shot that went wide.
With extra time within sight, Sabella made his third and final substitute in the 86th minute, replacing Enzo Perez with Fernando Gago. Two minutes later, German coach Joachim Low pulled the 37-year-old Klose for what was probably his last World Cup minutes, for Gotze, who emphatically made the move pay off.