Mats Hummels of Germany scores his team’s first goal on a header against Raphael Varane of France (Getty Images)
A Mats Hummels headed goal was enough for Germany to eliminate France and go through to the semi-finals. The 1-0 victory over old rivals France takes Germany to the World Cup semi-finals for a record fourth straight time.
The centre-back’s powerful 13th-minute header decided the nervy encounter between two sides who have traditionally produced sensation matches. Hummels also blocked a late strike by Karim Benzema in a man-of-the-match performance at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.
Germany will now face the winner of the Brazil vs Colombia match in Tuesday’s semi-final at Belo Horizonte.
The Germans learned from their nervy win against Algeria to produce a polished and improved display by constantly frustrating France’s potent attack which was spearheaded by Benzema.
This is the 13th time in 20 attempts Germany have reached the World Cup’s semi-finals and the fourth in succession since bowing out of the quarter-finals at France ’98.
Seven of the German squad had suffered with mild flu in the build-up as Hummels retured to take Per Mertesacker’s place at centre-back. Miroslav Klose, joint top-scorer at World Cup finals with 15 goals, was prefered up front with Thomas Mueller switching to the right wing.
Deschamps made two changes from the side who beat Nigeria in the last 16 with centre-back Mamadou Sakho back after a hamstring complaint while Antoine Griezmann replaced Olivier Giroud in attack.
The Germans took the lead when Hummels, back in the side after missing Monday’s win over Algeria with flu, rose highest to head Toni Kroos’ free-kick. His bullet header smashed in off the crossbar to claim his second goal of Brazil 2014 having also scored with a similar header in the 4-0 opening win over Portugal.
France’s best chance came on 33 minutes when Mathieu Valbuena’s shot was saved by Manuel Neuer and Benzema failed to control the follow-up, firing over the bar.
Germany’s replacement Andre Schuerrle should have made it 2-0 in the second-half when he fired at French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ feet, then had a late shot blocked.
Neuer’s late save to deny Benzema means Germany head coach Joachim Loew has now reached the semi-finals of all of the last four major tournaments during his eight-year reign.
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