Maracanã Stadium , RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil
With two quick, deft touches, Mario Goetze ended Germany’s 24-year wait for another World Cup title — and denied Messi the one title he needs to forever take his place among the game’s all-time greats.
Goetze scored the winning goal in extra time to give Germany a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday in a tight and tense World Cup final that was decided by one moment of brilliance.
It is Germany’s first World Cup title as a unified nation, having won as West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
The Germans faced Argentina in both the 1986 and 1990 finals, during Diego Maradona’s heyday.
Goetze, who wasn’t born when West Germany beat Argentina in the 1990 final, controlled a cross with his chest in the 113th minute and in one fluid motion volleyed the ball past goalkeeper Sergio Romero and inside the far post from five yards out.
It was a goal that gave Germany its fourth World Cup title, equal second with Italy on the list of all-time champions and just behind Brazil’s five.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I don’t know how to describe it. You just shoot that goal in, you don’t really know what’s happening,” Goetze said. “And then at the end of the match, having a party with the team, the whole country … it is for us, a dream come true.”
At the final whistle, Germany players fell into a pile in the middle of the pitch in celebration. Messi walked past them with his hands on his hips — still in the shadow of his compatriot Diego Maradona, who led his country to the 1986 title.
Goetze went on as a substitute for Miroslav Klose toward the end of regulation time and his fresh legs made the difference.
Andre Schuerrle broke down the left flank, sending his cross into the area, and the Bayern Munich midfielder did the rest with a clinical finish. The goal echoed that of Andres Iniesta four years ago, when the midfielder scored in similar fashion but from the other side of the area to give Spain a 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands.
According to Germany coach Joachim Loew, it was exactly as he’d planned when he made the substitution.
“I said to Mario Goetze, ‘OK, show to the world that you’re better than Messi and you can decide the World Cup. You have all the possibilities to do that,'” Loew said. “I had a good feeling with him.”
Germany became the first European team to win a World Cup in the Americas, and the victory ends a string of near misses since winning its last major title at the 1996 European Championship. The team lost the 2002 World Cup final to Brazil, the Euro 2008 final to Spain and was eliminated in the semifinals in both 2006 and 2010.
Germany had entered the game as the favorite after its 7-1 semifinal drubbing of Brazil. But Argentina proved to be an entirely different proposition.