Jul 4, 2014 8:01 PM by Posted by Greg Smith
Mats Hummels headed Germany past France at the Maracana and into a FIFA World CupTM semi-final at the Mineirao. The 25-year-old centre-back scored the only goal in the 13th minute, and Joachim Low's side will now head to Belo Horizonte to face the Brazil-Colombia winners.
France were first to threaten in Rio de Janeiro, with Karim Benzema's first-time volley from Mathieu Valbuena's clever cut-back going narrowly wide.
Germany were the first to break through. Toni Kroos delivered a curling free-kick into the box, and Hummels outmuscled Raphael Varane and headed home via the underside of the crossbar.
Germany bossed possession thereafter, but they had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them ahead after 33 minutes. Antoine Griezmann produced a superb, volleyed pass to free Valbuena, in space inside the area. The diminutive midfielder took a touch and shot across goal, only for Manuel Neuer to fling himself south-west and make an excellent save.
France emerged from the break on the front foot, and within minutes Patrice Evra failed to connect with an attempted header when unmarked in the box.
Germany put together two wonderful passing moves, with Philipp Lahm and Thomas Muller involved. But France did a good job in cutting out their final ball.
After Evra gifted possession to the Germans on 69 minutes, they worked it to Muller, who fired just wide.
Germany produced a breathtaking move with 15 minutes remaining. Ozil skipped inside his marker and played the ball into Muller inside the France area. The Bayern Munich man exquisitely fooled Varane by letting it run through his legs, but his cut-back was cleared.
Benzema did well to work himself space inside the German box, but just as he was about to strike, the sliding Hummels made a decisive interception.
Germany should have put the result to rest on 82 minutes. Ozil found acres of space down the left and intelligently laid the ball back to the onrushing Muller. The latter sliced his shot but it fell kindly to Schurrle, who had all the time in the world but elected to hit it first-time, with his tame effort being repelled by the legs of Lloris.
Schurrle again hit a shot straight at the France goalkeeper moments later as the team leading, and not trailing, looked most likely to score the game's second goal.
But France had a great chance to do just that moments before the final whistle. Benzema played a one-two with Oliver Giroud but Neuer made a superb one-hand block from his fierce, close-range shot.
France's World Cup was over. Germany's is very much alive.
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