Germany strangle Les Bleus to reach semis

Germany strangle Les Bleus to reach semis
Germany's defender Mats Hummels celebrates his goal against France

by Graeme Jackson

Friday Jul 04, 2014. 20:07

Germany booked a place in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup with a narrow but deserved 1-0 win over European rivals France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

The ‘Mannschaft’ were typically dogged and efficient, smothering ‘Les Bleus’ with their intelligent tactics, especially once they had claimed an early lead through the head of centre-back Mats Hummels.

The Germans have now qualified for the semifinals of the World Cup for a fourth successive time and a record 13th overall. They will face either hosts Brazil or Colombia on July 8 in Belo Horizonte.

Germany settled the quicker of the two teams and opened the scoring in the 13th minute. Toni Kroos played an in-swinging cross from a free kick and Mats Hummels out-jumped Raphael Varane to score with a glancing header.

Joachim Low’s team created further half chances and had a decent shout for a penalty turned down when Miroslav Klose tumbled in the box after having his shirt pulled by Mathieu Debuchy.

France almost claimed an equaliser in the 34th minute when Antoine Griezmann’s cross found Mathieu Valbuena, but the playmaker’s shot was brilliantly saved by Manuel Neuer, while Hummels did just enough to deny Karim Benzema from the rebound.

Les Bleus also created a free header for Benzema toward the end of the first half, but again Hummels got himself between the striker and the goal to make a vital block.

The French started the second half brightly, but other than a decent header from Varane which was comfortably saved by Neuer, they offered little genuine threat at goal and rarely stretched the German defence.

It was only once Didier Deschamps brought on Loic Remy for Yohane Cabaye that Les Bleus started to look more dangerous going forward, but the combination of Hummels and Neuer were able to thwart their best efforts.

Germany should have wrapped up the game with eight minutes to play when a counter attack led by Mesut Ozil handed substitute Andre Schurrle a clear sight of goal, but his low shot was well saved by Hugo Lloris.

Benzema almost claimed an equaliser deep in injury time with a left-footed drive from a tight angle, but Neuer palmed the ball away to keep his clean sheet and ensure his side a place in the final four.

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