Germany were crowned World Cup winners for the first time in 24 years with a 1-0 victory over Argentina in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
An incredibly close match went all the way until extra time before Mario Götze finally broke the deadlock with a winning goal in the 113th minute.
The game got off to a pulsating start, with both sides playing at an exciting tempo.
Germany controlled possession and look to create chances with fluid movement and quick interchanges, though Argentina’s pace on the break was a constant threat.
However, the first chance of the match wasn’t the result of any attacking invention, but a glaring defensive mistake by Germany’s Toni Kroos.
His aimless header in the 21st minute landed straight at the feet of Argentine attacker, Gonzalo Higuaín, though he contrived to lash wide when one-on-one with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Germany responded six minutes later with a dangerous delivery from Philipp Lahm down the right, though his cross was palmed away by Sergio Romero.
Germany were given a scare moments later, when Ezequiel Lavezzi’s cross was stabbed into the back of the net by a jubilant Higuaín, though the offside flag ruined Argentine celebrations and kept the game goalless.
Argentina looked on top as the game ticked past the half-hour, and Germany’s woes were compounded when coach Joachim Löw was forced into an unexpected substitution on the half-hour: André Schürrle brought on to replace a concussed Christoph Kramer.
Die Mannschaft’s lack of pace at the back was exposed with an alarming regularity by their Argentinian opponents and left-back Benedikt Höwedes in particular looked a liability.
He was fortunate to avoid a red card for a vicious tackle in the 34th minute, instead escaping with just a booking.
Nevertheless, the game began to look more even as the first half drew towards a close. Schürrle forced a great save from Romero from the edge of the box in the 37th minute, before the German’s teammate, Jérôme Boateng, got back to make a goalline clearance on a Lionel Messi poke.
German fullback Höwedes went closer than anyone to breaking the deadlock in stoppage time at the end of the opening half, when he powerfully met Kroos’ corner in the penalty area and crashed a header off Romero’s post.
Argentine sighs of relief turned into German ones within a couple of minutes of the restart, as the South Americans went within inches of taking the lead.
Messi was threaded through on goal by midfielder Lucas Biglia, only to fire his shot across the face of Neuer’s goal and wide.
However, the early chance was the exception in a second half in which goalscoring opportunities were rather less frequent than the first.
The game’s slower tempo played into Germany’s hands, though a combination of profligate finishing and last-ditch defending ensured Romero had little to do in the Argentine goal.
Kroos should have tested him inside the final 10 minutes when free on the edge of the box, though he stroked his shot way wide.
Germany, just as robust as their opponents at the back, and that meant only one thing: extra time.
Die Mannschaft continued in the ascendancy after the game resumed and forced Romero into a stop within just a minute of play.
Schürrle was threaded through and lashed a shot towards goal, though the Argentine stopper managed to parry it away from close range.
Argentina responded with a great chance of their own, though Rodrigo Palacio failed to neatly control Marcos Rojo’s deep cross on the edge of the box and chipped wide of the target.
It would prove to be a costly miss.
With less than 10 minutes remaining until the penalty shootout, a momentary loss of concentration allowed Germany to finally open the scoring.
A brilliant run and cross from Schürrle down the left found substitute Mario Götze in the box.
With a great touch and a calm finish, he dispatched the ball into the corner of Romero’s goal from close range. 1-0.
Argentina threw everything at Germany in the remaining moments, but it was too little, too late.
They’ll have to wait another four years to have another shot at reclaiming the World Cup crown.