Germany, thanks to a goal by Mario Götze in double overtime, defeated Argentina in the World Cup final here Sunday at Maracana Stadium, becoming the first European national team to win the world title in South America.
In a final match rather short on significant action and risk-taking, but tense and exciting throughout, it was Götze, a centerfielder for Bayern Munich who denied Lionel Messi the title he craved but, from his play in the decisive contest, did not deserve.
Germany’s coach Joachim Löw had wanted his team to control play and - despite unforeseen problems - they managed to do just that.
The 22-year-old Götze replaced Miroslav Klose in the 88th minute and it was Andre Schurrle, another substitute, who finally set up the winning tally, firing a beautiful cross shot to his diminutive colleague, who had gotten in between defenders and stopped the ball with his chest, then - while it was still in the air - tapped it into the net with his left foot.
Both teams played with great caution through the long and scoreless regulation time and on into the first overtime and then the second. The meticulous German team had scored a whopping 17 goals during this tourney, but Argentina had not allowed a single goal in its past three games.
And Germany had gotten into the semifinals in each of the last four World Cups but had not won the title in 24 years, while Argentina had not taken home the cup since 1986.
The German’s maintained their heavy lead in time of possession - about 65 percent to Argentina’s 35 percent - throughout the match, but Messi probably got the best chance of the night when, just a few moments after the break, he got off a wide-open shot from the left wing that made it by the German goalie - Manuel Neuer - but went wide of the post.
Germany won its earlier titles in 1954, 1974 and 1990, the last one by defeating Argentina in another 1-0 match on a penalty kick.
On hand for the event were German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President and host Dilma Rousseff and many other top officials from around the world, along with personalities and celebrities such as David Beckham, Pele, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and her husband, NFL superplayer Tom Brady, along with the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger.
The final match of the 20th World Cup competition was played before some 75,000 fans.