Germany 1, Argentina 0
A missed opportunity, an offside and Messi lazily strolling around in the midfield cost Argentina the trophy
The tournament’s outstanding team failed to repeat the fluency and brilliance of the 7-1 semifinal romp against Brazil, but Joachim Loew’s team found one more sumptuous moment during the second half of extra time.
Faced with opponents who would not buckle like Brazil, Germany had to gather themselves and dig in for what promised to be a long haul. The German defence, which had rarely been tested by quarter-final opponents France or Brazil in that bizarre semi-final looked like breaking on several occasions, struggling to cope not just with the tricks of Messi but the direct speedy running of Lavezzi, who attacked from the flanks or through the middle.
Bayern Munich playmaker Goetze, on as an 88th minute replacement for World Cup record goalscorer Miroslav Klose, chested down Andre Schurrle’s floated left-wing cross at the near post to superbly steer home from six yards.
It was the first time Argentina had found itself behind in the competition and it came as a bitter pill to swallow after Alejandro Sabella’s men had created the better chances in normal time.
Gonzalo Higuain passed up a glorious opportunity midway though the first half and the Argentina striker also had a first-half effort correctly ruled out for offside.
Germany defender Benedikt Howedes then headed against the post on the stroke of the interval and, after the break, passions threatened to boil over in what was an understandably feisty encounter.
Lionel Messi fired agonizingly wide shortly after the restart, while Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was lucky not to be punished for clattering a knee into Higuain’s face as the striker ran through on goal.
Neuer’s opposite number, Sergio Romero, denied Schurrle inside the first minute of extra time, while fellow substitute Rodrigo Palacio fluffed his lines at the other end before Gotze sealed Germany’s fourth World Cup triumph.
The newly crowned champion was forced into an 11th hour change after influential midfielder Sami Khedira suffered the heartbreak of sustaining a calf strain during the warm up.
Veteran Germany striker Klose was then muscled away from Philipp Lahm‘s inviting 13th minute cross by Martin Demichelis as Loew’s men settled into an ominous rhythm, although Ezequiel Garay‘s shuddering shoulder charge into Kramer’s face that ultimately cut short the 23-year-old’s fairytale appearance showed Argentina was not ready to be dictated to.
The South Americans should have taken the lead in the 21st minute, Higuain pulling his shot wastefully wide after Kroos’ ill-judged header back sold Germany’s defense horribly short.
Nine minutes later, the Napoli star thought he had atoned, sweeping home Lavezzi’s low cross, only to see his wild and lengthy celebrations denied by an offside flag.
Schurrle, on for the stricken Kramer, drew a sharp save from Romero, while Messi forced Jerome Boateng to hack his cross-shot out of the goalmouth after racing down the right.
Howedes, somewhat fortunate to have only been booked for a reckless lunge on Pablo Zabaleta earlier in the half, then thudded Kroos’s stoppage-time corner against the post to conclude an eventful opening period.
Messi’s big moment looked to have arrived two minutes into the second half but the Barcelona superstar shot past the far post on the end of Lucas Biglia‘s measured through ball, with Neuer beaten. Before that, except for a couple of penetrating moves, Messi was noticed most of the time strolling lazily, with a snobbish air of a star player about him, in the field even as Germans went past him on several occasions with the ball.
Otherwise, Messi’s extraordinary ball control, allied to his ability to shift gears and quicken in an instant makes him almost unplayable at times and on numerous occasions here he ran at the German rearguard and caused consternation — none more so than when he outpaced Mats Hummels and fired in a shot that just went wide.
An Argentina attack bolstered by Sergio Aguero’s halftime introduction for Lavezzi continued to give Germany’s high defensive line some nervy moments, and Neuer, in a full-on ‘sweeper keeper’ mode, was on the wrong side of robust in clattering through Higuain in the 57th minute as he sought to get on the end of Zabaleta’s raking ball.
Referee Nicola Rizzoli awarded a German free kick amid Argentine bemusement.
Bookings in quick succession for Javier Mascherano and Aguero hinted at bubbling frustration as the game entered its final quarter and Germany ended the 90 minutes back on the front foot, as Kroos drilled the ball past the post from 18 yards.
Schurrle almost provided an explosive start to extra time as Romero stood firm and the Argentina counterattack was looking increasingly potent when Aguero dragged a shot off target.
In the 97th minute, Palacio evaded the attentions of Germany’s defense but his touch over Neuer was far too heavy.
It was an error that Argentina would deeply regret, as Gotze found a brilliant finish with seven minutes left that was a fitting way to win the showpiece as a European nation secured a first World Cup win on South American soil.