World  Cup  2014:  Germany  pulls off last-minute  win  over Argentina in final

Germany's defender and captain Philipp Lahm (front-C) holds up the World Cup trophy as he celebrates with his teammates after winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup final football match between Germany and Argentina 1-0 following extra-time at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 13, 2014. FABRICE COFFRINI/GETTY IMAGES

Last Updated Jul 13, 2014 6:30 PM EDT

RIO DE JANEIRO - 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, 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.It was a goal that gave Germany its fourth World Cup title in its 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.


World Cup 2014: Germany vs. Argentina final

Goetze had come on as a substitute for Miroslav Klose toward the end of regulation 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. The goal echoed that of Andres Iniesta's 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.

For Germany, the win 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 and lost in the semifinals in both 2006 and 2010.

It is Germany's first World Cup title as a unified nation, having won as West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990. 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 converts for Barcelona.

Messi threatened intermittently throughout the match, but was effectively neutralized for long stretches. When he did try to break forward with one of his quick dribbles, he was surrounded by the German defense.

His free kick in the 120th minute went well high.

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 center circle.

Messi, who scored four goals in the group stage but none in the knockout rounds, then had to trudge alone up the stairs of the Maracana Stadium to accept the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player, shaking hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel along the way. He never broke a smile. Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was voted best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Up until Goetze's winning goal, the game was more notable for top-class defending than creative attacking, but both teams had their share of chances.

In fact, the first half had just about everything but a goal.

Gonzalo Higuain was gifted a free chance when Toni Kroos' back header landed at his feet and left him all alone with Neuer. However, he sent his shot woefully wide.

Higuain thought he had scored in the 30th after Messi picked out Ezequiel Lavezzi with a great ball and he sent a cross in toward the Napoli striker. Higuain slotted in his finish inside the far post and ran all the way to the corner flag in celebration before realizing he had been called for offside.

Shortly afterward, Germany was forced to use a substitution as Christoph Kramer had to go off with a suspected concussion after colliding with Ezequiel Garay's shoulder earlier in the game. Kramer had continued playing but looked visibly dizzy as he was led off the field. Kramer, who was a late inclusion in the lineup after Sami Khedira was injured during the warmup, was replaced by Schuerrle.

Germany's best chance came just before the break when Benedikt Hoewedes hit the post with a header from a corner.

The game grew more cagey in the second half as both teams became increasingly cautious, knowing that a single mistake could make the difference.

In extra time, both teams had chances to score early. Schuerrle controlled a ball in the area just after the restart and fired a hard shot that Romero had to react quickly to push out.

In the 97th, Palacacio controlled a cross on his chest and tried to lob Neuer, but the ball drifted wide of the post.

  1. 1Best and Worst ... a Compilation
    Halftime entertainment; We’re like those TV cooks — “luckily, we prepared this earlier.” We’ve watched and enjoyed this World Cup, from start to — almost — finish. Here’s our best and worsts of the World Cup. We’d love to hear yours.
    Best goals — James Rodriguez’s chest-swivel-volley; Tim Cahill’s volley of a long-distance pass, drilling it across his body and into the far corner; Robin Van Persie’s belly-flop header; Lionel Messi’s left-footed curler against Iran and David Luiz guided-missile free kick, over the wall and under the crossbar, against Colombia.
    Best team —Germany — no matter what happens tomorrow. Why? They came out of a tough group (demolishing Portugal, 4-0, in the opener); held off a talented Algerian team that played with tremendous heart; got past France, one of the legitimate contenders for a semifinal slot, and then showed what total teamwork looks like in their rout of Brazil. Argentina are a good team held together by a truly great leader; Germany could lose any one, two or even three of their starters and still play like a coherent, dangerous team.
    Worst team — Cameroon shades Honduras by a head-butt. At least all of Honduras’s thuggery was aimed at the opposition; the Indomitable Lions took out their frustration on each other.
    Heroes — Maybe we’re biased, but Tim Howard has to be high on that list. Also on it: Keylor Navas; Lionel Messi, for hauling his team into the finals; Arjen Robben, for dynamic play in the early stages; and Germany’s Miroslav Klose, quietly vaulting himself to the top of the all-time World Cup goal scorers list, with 16 in 23 games, ahead of Brazil’s Ronaldo (15 in 19 games).

  2. 2Villains — Gotta pick two: Juan Zuñiga, for putting his knee into Neymar, and Luis Suarez, for putting his choppers into Chiellini (bonus points for the ne plus ultra of dog-ate-my-homework explanations to FIFA). And a dishonorable mention to David Luiz for his semifinal performance as the mindless rooster in a pen of headless chickens.
    Luis Suárez after biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.Credit
    Ricardo Mazalan/Associated Press

    Best-worst performances, single game: Netherlands-Spain, 5-1, with the Dutch scoring five great goals and Spain’s era of dominance — twice European champions and defending world champions — coming to a skittering, gasping end. And, of course, Germany-Brazil, 7-1, where the Germans played as if they all knew each other’s movements without even looking, and, with five goals in 28 minutes, brought the host country’s sky-high expectations crashing to the ground.
    Biggest Disappointments — Brazil, of course. But let’s not forget three old titans who, like Spain, failed to get out of the first round: England, Italy and Portugal. The decline of “Old Europe”? All had glaring weakness that couldn’t be papered over. Also disappointing: the African teams, except for Algeria. Once again they made news for the wrong reasons — bickering among teammates, sloppy play on the field, uncertainty about their paychecks. Runners-up: the four Asian teams. Not one made it out of the group stage.
    Biggest (Good) Surprises — Costa Rica, which everyone picked to finish last in Group D. They not only won the group — beating Italy and Uruguay and tying England — but also conceded only two goals in five games, and took the Dutch to a penalty shootout in the quarterfinals, on the back of fantastic keeping by Keylor Navas and the playmaking of Bryan Ruiz and Joel (La Pantera) Campbell, who proved a handful for several defenders well above his pay grade. For that matter, the performance of CONCAF teams: three of the four reached the second round and Costa Rica reached quarters.
    Hope Never to See Again — A referee like the one who let Brazil-Colombia get recklessly out of control. Linesmen who fail to grasp the concept is that “in line is onside.”
    Hope to See Next Time — Replay technology for penalties, to help a referee decide whether it was legit or a dive.

  3. 3

World Cup final pits individuality vs. teamwork

Foto: Getty ImagesThe most entertaining World Cup in a generation comes down to a final match that pits the planet's best player against the tournament's best team.

Follow the action live with Terra's minute by minute Sunday starting at 2:30 p.m. EST.

Lionel Messi will lead Argentina out against Germany at Maracana Stadium on Sunday for a game that will define careers, cement legacies and be watched by a global audience of about a billion viewers.And it's a matchup that means more to both sides than just a chance to lift one of the most hallowed trophies in sports.For Messi, it's a chance to firmly make his case for being perhaps the greatest ever to play the world's most popular game. For Germany, it's an opportunity to make up for a number of near-misses over the last decade and re-establish itself as the dominant force in international football.And then there's the matter of settling a historical score. Argentina and West Germany played each other in two straight World Cup finals in 1986 and '90, games that are well remembered in the sports psyche of both countries. Diego Maradona and Argentina won the first, the Germans took the second. So call this game the tiebreaker."At this point who is favorite, who is not, it doesn't make a difference," Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodriguez said. "Both teams feel a responsibility to go all the way.

Di Maria racing time to be fit for final

Argentina, Germany start final preparations

Argentina's national soccer team player Javier Mascherano (2nd L) talks to teammate Lucas Biglia (C) as they sit with Ezequiel Lavezzi (R), Martin Demichelis (2nd R) and Rodrigo Palacio (R, standing) during a training session ahead of their 2014 World Cup final match against Germany, in Vespasiano July 10, 2014.
Germany's national soccer team coach Joachim Loew kicks a ball as assistant coach Hansi Flick (C) and goalkeeper coach Andreas Koepke look on during a training session in the village of Santo Andre north of Porto Seguro July 10, 2014. 

Most would name Germany as the favorite, especially after its astounding 7-1 drubbing of host Brazil in the semifinals. Argentina only reached the final after eking out a penalty shootout win over the Netherlands following a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes.Germany also dismantled Argentina 4-0 in the 2010 quarterfinals in South Africa."Germany is a great team. What happened to Brazil could happen to any team," Argentina forward Sergio Aguero said. "(But) we have players who can create danger up front. We're in the final for a reason."One thing speaks against Germany, too. No European team has ever won a World Cup played in the Americas. Whether that's because of the climate, the fan support or something else, Germany thinks it can buck the trend."We are looking forward to playing a South American team in South America but we hope the Brazilian fans will be supporting us," Germany assistant coach Hansi Flick said. "We know the Argentina team very well, we've played often against them. We know what to expect."Lionel Messi.Foto: Getty Images The question is, what can Argentina expect from Messi?For Argentina to have a chance, the Barcelona forward will have to perform considerably better than he did against the Netherlands, when he was hardly visible for most of the game.The four-time world player of the year scored four goals in the three group games but is on a three-game scoring drought in the knockout stages — including two extra time periods. While fellow forwards Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero are both capable of deciding big games themselves, and the team's defense has looked surprisingly solid, it's hard to see Argentina winning without a big contribution from Messi.For Germany, the equation is equally simple: If it can contain Argentina's biggest threat, its superior strength in the rest of the field should make the difference. From goalkeeper to center forward, Germany is a team without a weakness. With the exception of an erratic performance against Algeria in the second round, Germany has played like a perfect team machine, getting goals from defenders, midfielders and forwards alike."We'll have to keep with Messi constantly and try to disturb him," Germany forward Thomas Mueller said. "It will be important to act as a unit."Germany has not won a major tournament since the 1996 European Championship, losing in the final of the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008. It was knocked out in the semifinals at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, and Euro 2012.Forward Miroslav Klose, who scored his record 16th World Cup goal against Brazil in the semifinals, is the only player who remains from that 2002 team.Klose's 16 World Cup goals in photosAgainst Saudi Arabia, Klose scored his first World Cup goal wkith a header in the first half.Photo: Getty Images "I don't want to lose another final," Klose said. "I want to lift the cup."Regardless of what happens, Klose's legacy is already secure as the tournament's all-time top scorer. To say Messi's will be defined by one game is an exaggeration, but the World Cup trophy is the only thing that currently separates him from the likes of Pele and Maradona in the echelon of all-time greats.If he lifts it on Sunday, he'll join them for good. Maybe even as the best of them all.

Lebron James News: Police Car Stationed Outside James’ Ohio House — Announcement Imminent?

News of a decision on the future of Lebron James was said to be coming any moment, asthe NBA star told police in Bath Township, Ohio, where the NBA mega-star has a house, to get ready for the news of his decision.Thursday afternoon, a police car was spotted outside the Lebron James house just outside of Akron. But Washington Post blogger Marissa Payne wonders what the presence of a stepped up police patrol in the Akron area could mean? Is James set to announce his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Akron native’s “hometown team, which drafted him out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School with the first overall pick in 2003? Or does he plan to return to the Miami heat, his team since 2010? “The police could be there to stave off vandalism if James announces he’s staying in Miami or going elsewhere,” wrote Payne. “Or, maybe — just maybe! — the patrol car is on the scene to control ecstatic revelers who plan to gather for a party outside James’ abode to celebrate the star’s return.”But reporters at the Akron Beacon-Journal, James’ hometown paper, appear certain that James has already decided to make a return to his roots and rejoin the Cavaliers.But despite the fact that Lebron James was expected, according to Phil Trexler, to deliver his news “tonight,” as of 10 pm Eastern time there had been no announcement.As reported earlier on The Inquisitr, sharp-eyed observers noted some anomalies on Lebron James’ personal online site, that were thought to indicate that James had already decided to return to the Cavaliers.As of Thursday night, James was still in Las Vegas, teaching at the summer basketball camp he operates there.ESPN News reported that when James showed up for the afternoon session of the basketball camp Thursday, he was seen sitting next to his Miami teammate and fellow superstar Dwayne Wade, and the two appeared on friendly and even jovial terms. The joint appearance led to speculation that perhaps James would return to the Heat after all.After meeting with Miami Heat President Pat Riley, James announced through representatives that he would not meet with any other NBA teams. He has not held a formal meeting with Cavaliers personnel.Unlike four years ago when Lebron James was last a free agent and announced news of his next team in a much-hyped televised special, this time he is expected to make his news public on