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Germany erupts with joy as 24-year World Cup wait comes to an end

By Euan McKirdy, CNN
updated 7:32 AM EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Germany wins World Cup with a hard-fought extra-time goal
  • Fans in German capital and around the country celebrate late into the night
  • German coach credits players, project started by his predecessor

How are you celebrating the World Cup? Join the global conversation on CNN Facebook Pulse

(CNN) -- In a twist of fate, the hosts' vanquishers became the heroes. Germany's Mario Götze's late, late strike made the difference in the final against Argentina, and his sublime goal prevented Brazil's neighbors and arch-rivals from lifting the trophy.

The two finalists played out an entertaining match that left both the teams' fans and neutrals on the edge of their seats until almost the last kick of the game. Ultimately, all it lacked was the goals that these Brazil crowds have come to expect.

Huge street party

The German capital came alive at the final whistle, with cars taking to the packed streets, waving German flags and scarves. Up to 500,000 fans packed into the huge fan zone in the center of the city, which was extended to 1.3 kilometer from the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate to accommodate the throngs of expectant fans.

German soccer fans react after the deciding goal for Germany in the final of the Brazil World Cup 2014.
German soccer fans react after the deciding goal for Germany in the final of the Brazil World Cup 2014.
Germany crowned as Brazil 2014 champion
Germany celebrates World Cup victory

The city, whose mood wasn't dampened by the rain that fell throughout the match, hosted fans from all over the country, and beyond.

The crowd in the Mitte district of Berlin erupted as Götze's goal went in on the 113th minute. The Bayern Munich star took Andre Schürrle's pass on his chest before displaying exquisite technique to volley the ball past Sergio Romero.

The raucous street parties that followed were intermittently interrupted by celebratory car horns. It is the country's fourth World Cup, and its first as a unified Germany.

Fans in the capital told CNN that they planned to party well into the early hours of the morning.

Traveling fans celebrate in Rio

Outside Rio de Janerio's famous stadium, German fans were equally delirious.

"I feel very, very good, this is the best day of my life," a exuberant fan named Lars told CNN outside the stadium. "We say before the Maracana, this is an amazing place, but I must say this is a fantastic day for my whole life."

Many of the Argentinian spectators at the Maracana in Rio left before the award presentation was over, distressed and angry at their team's narrow defeat. The heartbreak continues, at least for another four years, when the tournament will kick off again in Russia.

In the end, though, no one could begrudge Germany their fourth World Cup. The team which triumphed also scored the highest number of goals, and produced arguably the most exciting football -- including that 7-1 blowout against the hosts in the semifinal.

Throughout this match and the tournament, Germany coach Joachim Löw's men dominated possession and passing. Here, Germany weathered the storm of Argentina chances.

"Team spirit"

"We've always played good football and I believe that over this tournament, over seven matches, we've shown the best performances of any of the teams here in Brazil," Löw said. "The boys have also developed a team spirit which is unbelievable.

"It was good that we had played who could come on and make an impact, and [Mario] Götze is a miracle boy -- a boy wonder. I always knew he could decide the match."

German soccer fans watch the Brazil World Cup final on Berlin\'s \'Fan Mile.\'
German soccer fans watch the Brazil World Cup final on Berlin's 'Fan Mile.'
Mario Götze of Germany scores the only goal of the game during extra time during the World Cup final against Argentina at Maracana.
Mario Götze of Germany scores the only goal of the game during extra time during the World Cup final against Argentina at Maracana.

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella was magnanimous in defeat, and reserved special praise for his team, who made it to their first final in 24 years.

"My players were warriors and I congratulated them afterward because, beyond the sadness of the result, a coach must always assess his team's performance -- and I believe that was quite good," he said after the final whistle. "They left everything on the pitch."

The German players marveled at a result which stemmed from many years work, which began under the previous coach, Jurgen Klinsmann.

Lasting legacy

"It is unbelievable," German keeper Manuel Neuer, who also picked up the tournament's Golden Glove award for best goalkeeper, told German football magazine Kicker. "The team has done superbly, not only the players, but also the team behind the team. At some point we will stop celebrating, but we will always stand up again with a smile."

The feeling of incredulity was echoed by his teammate, captain Philipp Lahm, who lifted trophy in front of thousands of fans in Rio, alongside ten world leaders, including the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (top R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat during the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (top R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat during the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.

"It's unbelievable what we have achieved," said the Bayern Munich defender. "We improved throughout the tournament and didn't get down when things didn't always go our way.

"We just stuck to our path and at the end we're standing here as world champions. It's an unbelievable feeling. The team stayed calm and patient, we knew that we had something left at the end."

Positive press

The world's sports media praised the German victory, with Andy Brassell of Bleacher Report UK tweeting, "Germany deserving winners, on the night and overall. Thoroughly satisfying final between two really good sides, though."

CBS' Jason La Canfora tweeted his agreement. "Amazing tourney for Germany. We'll (sic) deserved. Began by thrashing Portugal and ended by beating both South American giants. Best team won."

Lionel Messi, named Golden Ball winner for an outstanding tournament, couldn't fulfill his destiny in the final. Plagued by comparisons with that other Argentine great, Diego Maradona, Messi couldn't replicate his usual form in this match. However, Sabella dismissed suggestions that this left him short of Maradona's achievements.

"He's already an all-time great," he said. "He's very tired after a long season."

Argentina\'s Lionel Messi (L) and Pablo Zabaleta react after losing the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.
Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) and Pablo Zabaleta react after losing the 2014 FIFA World Cup final.

Coping with loss

Argentina's Javier Mascherano, who kept his team's hopes alive with a heroic, last-ditch tackle on Arjen Robben during the semifinal against the Netherlands, said that the pain of losing was "immense."

The teary-eyed vice-captain, who has likely seen his last World Cup finals, said that while his team had the lion's share of chances, they couldn't convert them. "We wanted to win this for the people of Argentina, for those who came here to support us, but we lost.

"We have represented our country the best we could, though. We have to lift our heads despite the pain. We gave everything we could out there.

"And we only had to last another five minutes at the end. We just didn't have that little bit of luck that you need in a final."

Bizarre moments at the World Cup final

Four takeaways from World Cup 2014

Correction: We originally stated that Götze scored in the 119th minute, not the 113th. This has now been amended.

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