By Opeyemi Oladunjoye
Germany are champions of the world again after snatching victory against Argentina with a late extra-time goal from Mario Goetze to lift the trophy for the first time since 1990.
Germany secured a fourth World Cup title, and their first since the country was reunited 24 years ago, with a riveting 1-0 win in Sunday’s final at the sprawling Maracana. It also marked the first time an European country had won the sport’s greatest prize in the Americas.
“We have been together for 55 days but the work started 10 years ago with (former national team manager) Juergen Klinsmann,” said Germany coach, Joachim Loew.
“We did everything to experience this day. The team really deserved it. No one deserved it more than us.”
Germany captain, Philipp Lahm said: “It feels incredible. What we did for 120 minutes, the way we worked so hard, and the way the bench was backing us the whole time.
“You‘ve got to have the best team. We got better in each match and didn’t let ourselves be distracted. It’s unbelievable to have won the World Cup.”
The Argentina team were brave in defeat and with a bit more luck might have won the match. They squandered a string of chances before Goetze’s goal in the 113th minute made them rue the lost chances.
Argentina Striker Gonzalo Higuain shot wide when gifted a chance by a careless header towards his own goal from Toni Kroos and also had a goal disallowed for offside in the first half.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi missed the target in the second period with an angled shot from inside the box.
Substitute Rodrigo Palacio then misdirected his lob in extra time over the head of advancing Manuel Neuer, who won the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
“I am very proud. The boys played an extraordinary World Cup,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella. “Over and above the pain of a defeat, they can look each other in the eye, they can look in the mirror and know they gave their all for Argentina.”
Germany and Argentina were meeting in the final for the third time, with the South Americans winning 3-2 in Mexico City in 1986 then the Europeans beating them 1-0 in Rome four years later in what was their last appearance as West Germany.
As the Brazil 2014 World Cup came to an end, the outstanding tournament produced 171 goals to equal the record set at the 1998 finals in France.
Messi won the Golden Ball as the best player at the finals but it was not enough consolation for missing out on the big prize.
“Bitterness, sadness. We deserved a bit more after the match we played,” said the Argentina captain. “We are hurting because we had chances. Even if they had more possession, we had the clearest chance.
“Today was the day (to win). We didn’t have luck, and we weren’t able to apply the finishing touch. We had clear chances but we couldn’t do it.”
On being awarded the Golden Ball, Messi added: “It’s a sad prize which I won, because we wanted to lift the trophy for Argentina.”