For the first time since 1998, Chelsea have a World Cup winner as André Schürrle joins Frank Lebouef and Marcel Desailly at the pinnacle of the international game.
And what a way he did it, creating the final's only goal with a storming run down the left flank, double-marked but still finding space for a pinpoint left-footed cross between Pablo Zabaleta and Javier Mascherano. Mario Götze was on the end of it, his fresh legs ghosting past the static Argentina defense with ease. His first touch, the chest control was perfect, his volley good enough to beat Sergio Romero from a rather tight angle. It was the second latest goal scored in a World Cup final, eight minutes from the end of the second period of extra time. Argentina, on the back foot for most of the game, couldn't even muster a proper late-game desperation pressure.
The first half was a different story, with both team's legs fresh and ready to properly execute their respective gameplans. Germany had the edge in possession, but Argentina's pace on the wings, especially with Ezequiel Lavezzi down the right, was a constant and serious threat. It was a surprisingly open game, with chances at both ends, a goal from Argentina ruled out for offsides, a header onto the post from Germany, and several more glorious chances wasted.
While it was an even contest to start, as the game wore on and especially as substitutions were introduced, Germany slowly gained the upper hand. Argentina introduced a clearly unfit and subpar Sergio Aguero in favor of Lavezzi at half time and lost much of their counter-attacking threat. Their second sub Rodrigo Palacio was guilty of wasting their best chance in extra time. Meanwhile, Germany brought on Schürrle and Götze, and the two combined to score the winning goal.
The increasingly popular Schürrle -- one assist and three goals in the World Cup, all from the bench -- actually got 90 minutes today, coming on for the injured Christoph Kramer (who was only starting because of a Sami Khedira injury in the warmups) with half hour gone in the first half. It was a bold move from Löw, replacing a defensive midfielder with a wing-forward, but it proved the decisive masterstroke.
Congratulation my man @Andre_Schuerrle ... See you soon✌️✌️.— Eden hazard (@hazardeden10) July 13, 2014
And so, a fantastic World Cup, surely (Schürrle!) one for the ages, comes to a close and young André comes home a winner. May he repeat these scenes of joyous celebration in a Chelsea shirt in about nine months time.
P.S.: Michael Ballack, who's been singing Schürrle's praises on ESPN, is also happy: