Thomas Muller sealed Germany’s victory over the USA, but both teams go through to World Cup Round of 16.
A draw would qualify both of these teams and, with Jurgen Klinsmann on the American bench, this raised more than a few doubts in Portuguese minds. In the end, it was goal difference that saw USA qualify ahead of Portugal.
Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first start of the tournament, replacing Sami Khedira, and Lukas Podolski stepped in for Mario Gotze.
The game was almost called off due to heavy rain and flooding in Recife, but was able to go ahead as planned.
As expected, Germany kept much of the possession early doors, but Thomas Muller and Podolski both went for the same cross and the chance went begging. Omar Gonzalez was decisive in defence with last-ditch tackles on Muller and Schweinsteiger.
Graham Zusi’s left-footed strike from distance whistled over the bar, while Tim Howard caught a Toni Kroos snapshot and dealt with Mesut Ozil’s attempt.
Lazio striker Miroslav Klose, who matched Ronaldo’s all-time record of 15 World Cup goals in the last game, replaced Podolski for the second half.
Germany’s sterile possession finally paid off when Howard parried a Per Mertesacker header and Muller scored on the rebound from the edge of the box with a sensational curl off the inside of the right boot. Remarkably, it was Muller’s ninth World Cup goal in just nine appearances.
With this result, USA would still be qualified due to a superior goal difference. They appeared to realise that and focused on not conceding any more rather than securing an equaliser, while Germany rarely got out of third gear.
Deep into stoppages the Americans did have a chance with Alejandro Bedoya, but Philip Lahm came diving in with a decisive block and Clint Dempsey’s header was off target.
USA 0-1 Germany
Scorers: Muller 55 (G)
USA: Howard; Johnson, Gonzalez, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Beckerman; Zusi (Yedlin 84), Bradley, Davis (Bedoya 59); Dempsey
Germany: Neuer; Boateng, Mertesacker, Hummels, Howedes; Kroos, Lahm, Schweinsteiger (Gotze 76); Ozil (Schurrle 89), Muller, Podolski (Klose 46)
Ref: Irmatov (UZB)