By Frank Zeller and Rob Woollard ,AFP
BERLIN — Germany basked in the glory of their fourth World Cup on Monday after a nail-biting 1-0 victory against Argentina crowned them the first European team to win soccer’s top tournament in South America. Bleary-eyed fans awoke after late-night street parties, fireworks and honking motorcades across the country, with ecstatic fans singing “Oh, it’s beautiful!” and chanting “Super Deutschland!” into the early hours. Bayern Munich star Mario Goetze struck in the 113th minute of a gripping battle at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium as Argentina superstar Lionel Messi’s hopes of emulating Diego Maradona ended in defeat. “It’s unbelievable what we have achieved. Whether we have the best individual player doesn’t matter at all. You just need to have the best team,” said delighted Germany captain Philipp Lahm. Newspapers hailed “Super Mario” Goetze as the country’s new “football god” and showered praise on the new national heroes, the first to win the title for a reunified Germany, who are due to be welcomed home Tuesday at Berlin’s landmark Brandenburg Gate.
“It Is True,” headlined Die Welt daily, with the three words printed in the national colors of black, red and gold. “What a match, what a fight, what drama.” Some 34.6 million Germans were glued to their TV sets to watch the game, an all-time record. With four World Cups, the European powerhouses are now just one behind Brazil’s record tally of five. The tournament earlier saw Germany crush Brazil by a humiliating 7-1, and the hosts lost Saturday’s game for third place 3-0 to the Netherlands, sealing the fate of national coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, whose contract Brazil’s soccer confederation decided not to renew, according to local media reports. Germany’s win nonetheless sparked an explosion of joy in Brazil, which had been dreading the prospect of South American rivals Argentina winning the title on its territory. “Thank God, thank God that Germany won,” said Caio Ferraz, 45, a Brazilian looking up at the stars on Rio’s Copacabana beach. Argentines reacted with tears, cheers and violence after the dream of a third World Cup title slipped through their fingers, as clashes between hooligans and police ended a massive Buenos Aires street party.