Recap: France vs. Germany
07/04/2014 2:05 PM
07/04/2014 6:48 PM
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (SportsNetwork.com) - Mats Hummels scored in the 12th minute and Germany held on for a 1-0 quarterfinal win over France at the Maracana on Friday, allowing the Germans to become the first nation to reach four straight World Cup semifinals.
Hummels headed home a free kick from Toni Kroos after 12 minutes on the first real chance of the game for the Germans, while Joachim Low's team always appeared to be in control and stifled the French attack for much of the contest.
"I think both teams played well defensively today. There weren't many goalscoring opportunities, which was part of our plan," Low said. "We didn't want to give France chances with the quality of strikers they possess. We closed them down well - and that was the key."
France pressed for an equalizer over the final 10 minutes, but Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer made saves on both Blaise Matuidi and Karim Benzema to send his side through to the last four on Tuesday, where the Germans will face Brazil.
"We're playing the type of football that will give us the chance to win," said Hummels. "We're defending well, with passion and that needs to be intensified with every coming match. France are a top team and today was tough - it certainly wasn't a walk on the park. That said, I think we deserved to win."
The French tried to get off to a quick start in the seventh minute as Mathieu Valbuena chipped a ball into the area for Benzema, but his volley went wide of the left post, failing to trouble Neuer.
Five minutes later Germany earned a free kick in attacking third of the field and made the most of it as Kroos drove the ball to the front of goal, where Hummels held off his defender and flicked a header off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Valbuena had a chance for France 11 minutes before the break when he got into the penalty area on the left and put a shot on goal that forced Neuer to react quickly to make the save, while the German defense cleared the rebound to safety.
French defender Raphael Varane got forward on the hour mark and turned a header on goal from Yohan Cabaye's cross that Neuer snagged at the top corner, keeping Germany in front with 30 minutes to play.
Germany was content to sit back and hit on the counter, and after Neuer saved a shot from Matuidi, the Germans nearly added a second goal on the break as Mesut Ozil got down the left wing and pulled the ball back for Andre Schurrle for a first-time shot that was saved by the legs of France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
The final chance for Les Bleus came deep into stoppage time when Benzema worked his way into the box on the left and drilled a left-footed shot on goal that Neuer parried, preserving the win and sending the Germans back to the semifinals.
"Although our adventure in Brazil ends here and we're sad, disappointed and frustrated, we'll move on," said France head coach Didier Deschamps. "I hope this group of players can play together for a long time. I have a lot of work to do with them, but things are definitely promising. We'll need to maintain this momentum and quality. Although I'm hurt and disappointed at the moment, I have to remember that there are a lot of positives."
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