GERMANY 1, ARGENTINA 0 (after extra time)
Mario Gotze created a piece of sporting history as Germany defeated Argentina after extra time in the final of the World Cup.
The Bayern Munich midfield man became the first substitute to score in a final as Germany also become the first European country to lift the World Cup in South America.
Gotze, who replaced Miroslav Klose in the 88th minute, struck seven minutes before the final would have been settled on penalties as Germany became winners for the fourth time, but first since 1990.
It had supposed to be the night when Argentina’s Lionel Messi, arguably the world’s greatest player of his generation, took centre stage.
Sadly the mercurial Messi, on whose Argentina’s hopes were largely pinned, failed to deliver as Germany were crowned champions.
In a competition which has rained goals – Gotze’s effort was the 171st of the competition to equal the 1998 record haul – it was a largely cagey final involving two well-organised teams.
Yes, there were chances, but they were few and far between. Only three shots on target in 90 minutes, and all three of them were from Germany.
Germany had troubles even before the match kicked off when Sami Khedira was injured in the warm up and then his replacement Christoph Kramer limped off in the opening period.
Argentina ought to have found the net in the first half when Toni Kroos let in Gonzalo Higuain with a weak header back to Manuel Neuer only to fire wide with only the keeper to beat.
Higuain also had a goal rightly ruled out for offside while Mats Hummels saved the day when Messi burst clear.
Germany also had their chances as Benedikt Howedes saw a header hit the upright and Andre Schurle forced a decent save from Sergio Romero.
The second half became even tighter as neither side carved out a meaningful chance as the game became noted for niggly fouls and also one or two unsavoury ones as Argentine substitute Sergio Aguero, already booked, was lucky not to be sent off as his flaying hand hit Bastian Schweinsteiger in the face drawing blood.
Both sides could have made the breakthrough in the first period of extra time when Schurle’s shot was beaten out by Romero and then Argentine substitute Rodrigo Palacio lobbed Neurer but saw his effort fly wide of an empty net.
It needed something special to break the deadlock and Gotze provided that with time running out. Schurle provided a delicious deliver from the left and Gotze, the only German in the penalty area, chested the ball down and volleyed home from a tight angle into the far corner of the net.
It sparked joyous celebrations, notably from German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was in the Maracana Stadium and who could not conceal her delight as Germany emerged worthy winners as they were without question the competition’s top team.