The World Cup final was promoted as “Man vs The Machine,” or the best player in the world (Lionel Messi) versus the best team in the world (Germany). So it was fitting that Germany won the World Cup with two minutes of brilliant team soccer following one final mistake by Messi.
Ultimately, Germany won when Mario Gotze played a pass off his chest and drove the ball past the keeper at the 112:20 mark of extra time. But the winning goal actually started exactly two minutes earlier.
120 seconds to go.
One of the beautiful things about soccer is how quickly fortunes can change. There are two minutes before the Gotze goal and at this point, Argentina is actually in a very good position.
The ball is on the foot of Messi, who has 15 yards of open space if he makes a quick move to his left. This is where he is at his most dangerous. From there he could either make his own move or pass the ball to the right where a winger is waiting for a chance to deliver a cross into the box.
Instead, sensing the pressure from four German defenders, Messi dumps the ball to Fernando Gago to his immediate right. Gago then tries to feed the streaking winger, but instead turns the ball over to Germany. Meanwhile, Messi runs to open space without the ball.
Unknown to anybody. This was the last time Argentina would control the ball before Germany scored their winning goal.
113 seconds to go.
Now we start to see the brilliance of the German machine. The passes are crisp and accurate. The ball is controlled. It is boring and methodical to a certain extent, but Argentina will spend the next 113 seconds chasing the ball and the German players while being lulled into a false sense that nothing is happening.
104 seconds to go.
After pushing the ball up slightly and not seeing anything worth forcing, Germany plays the ball all the way back to their keeper.
90 seconds to go.
After a couple of passes and some slow, controlled dribbles, Germany briefly takes the ball into the Argentina side of the pitch.
65 seconds to go.
Germany briefly pushes the ball down the right wing, but when nothing develops, they play the ball all the way back to their keeper again.
Instead of forcing something and just turning the ball over, Germany is content to control the ball and wait to see if anything opens up.
45 seconds to go.
Argentina finally gets a boot on the ball for the first time since the turnover 75 seconds earlier. But all they are able to do is knock the ball out of bounds for a throw-in.
40 seconds to go.
Immediately after the throw-in, we see another sign that Germany is in control and Argentina is struggling.
Rodriguo Palacio is beaten badly going for the ball and instead just grabs the jersey of Philipp Lahm and a foul is called. Little did anybody know that this was the play that set in motion the winning goal.
23 seconds to go.
Germany takes the ball back and to the other side of the field where Toni Kroos and Andre Schuerrle culminate with a couple of quick passes back and forth near midfield.
7 seconds to go.
With the ball on Schuerrle’s boot, he sees some space. It is as if the German side has lulled Argentina to sleep. Several defenders are just standing around as if they are expecting Germany to just run out the clock.
Instead, Schuerrle turns and makes an aggressive move upfield. Gotze, who is near the sideline looks back to see if Schuerrle will go to the middle or move wide.
Argentina was just not ready for Germany to suddenly turn on some speed.
4 seconds to go.
Schuerrle decides to go wide, so Gotze moves to the middle into an open space. More importantly, no Argentina defenders go with him, leaving Gotze completely unchecked with only the keeper to beat.
ESPN captured the final ten passes with this graphic.
0 seconds to go.
As they say, the rest is history. A perfect cross beat three defenders, landing gently on the chest of Gotze who played the one touch and beat the keeper. Germany went on to win 1-0.
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