With two quick touches, Mario Goetze ended Germany’s 24-year wait for another World Cup title.
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 came down to one piece of individual skill.
Goetze 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.
It was a goal that gave Germany their fourth World Cup title in their eighth final, and left Argentina star Lionel Messi still walking in the shadow of his compatriot Diego Maradona, who led his country to the 1986 title.
Earlier, Gonzalo Higuain wasted an opportunity by firing wide when gifted a chance in a one-on-one with Neuer, and later had a goal ruled out for offside.
Germany defender Benedikt Hoewedes hit the post just before halftime with a header from a corner, and ineffective finishing plagued both sides the rest of the way.
Goetze had come on as a substitute for Miroslav Klose at the end of normal time and the 22-year-old midfielder’s fresh legs made the difference.
Andre Schuerrle broke down the left flank, sending his cross into the area, and the Bayern Munich player did the rest with a clinical finish.
Germany bury demons
The Germans lost the 2002 World Cup final to Brazil and lost in the semi-finals in both 2006 and 2010.
It was also the third World Cup final between these countries and had been billed as a matchup between the perfect team and the perfect individual, pitting Germany’s machine-like unit against the brilliance of Messi, the four-time world player of the year.
But in the biggest game of his career, Messi came up short.
He had one good chance to score when he was sent free in the area just after the halftime break, but sent his shot wide of the far post. It was a difficult angle, but still the type of chance he so often scores from.
Messi threatened intermittently throughout the match, but was effectively neutralised for long stretches. When he did try to break forward with one of his quick dribbles, he was surrounded by the German defence.
When the final whistle blew, Germany players collapsed in a pile in the middle of the pitch, while Messi walked with his hands on his hips toward the centre circle.