Germany, on the verge of a penalty shootout ending with Argentina for the FIFA World Cup title Sunday, earned a victory from a strike delivered by substitute forward Mario Götze in the 113th minute of extra time, making them the first European nation ever to win a World Cup hosted in the Americas.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Götze, the FIFA Man of the Match said afterwards, “I don’t know how to describe it. I just took the shot and didn’t know what was happening. For us, the dream has become a reality.”
Germany dominated throughout the tournament. They had won their group, cruised through the round of 16 and quarterfinals and dismantled Brazil to reach the final. But against Argentina, it was a struggle.
There were times it appeared that the South American country would be the one hoisting the golden trophy. Moments like the 47th minute, when Lionel Messi was just feet away from the goal before he struck the ball and missed by the closest of margins.
There was also forward Gonzalo Higuaín’s miss in the 22nd minute, a shot that was taken from twenty yards out in a one-on-one situation with German keeper Manuel Neuer. The goal could have given Argentina the early lead in a very defensive contest.
But Germany had already proven many times this World Cup that if you let them stick around they will find a way to come out victorious. And that is exactly what happened at Estádio Maracanã in Rio De Janeiro.
They had put up their previous chances too. Defender Benedikt Höwedes’ header in the 46th minute was inches away from crossing the line, but bounced off the right goalpost instead. In the 91st minute, forward André Schürrle was just outside the box when Argentinian keeper Sergio Romero deflected his right-footed strike away from goal.
The scoreless draw was broken when a perfect lob pass from Schürrle in the 113th minute of extra time came down feet away from the goal line on Götze’s chest, from there he volleyed it past Romero for the latest goal in World Cup Final history.
A German side that had been awaiting this moment since their last World Cup victory in 1990 rejoiced, while Argentinians, who dominated the crowd inside of the stadium, saw their hopes of victory slip away. There would be no reliving the Diego Maradona 1986 glory days.
“They left everything on the pitch,” Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella said. “These are very close matches and, when you make a mistake, you know it’s difficult to turn it around. But in general terms, I’m very proud and my boys played an extraordinary World Cup.”
With the heroic goal, Götze became the first substitute to ever score in overtime of a World Cup final. And for Germany, the team that played as sound and organized as any soccer team ever has, the World Cup title is now their fourth, only one behind all-time leader Brazil.
“We started this project ten years ago,” German coach Joachim Löw said. “We’ve made constant progress, we believed in the project, we worked a lot and, if any group deserves it, it’s this team. Every player in this team gave everything they had.”