Germany first team into World Cup semis

03:29, Jul 05 2014
Neymar
Brazil's Neymar unsuccessfully appeals to referee Howard Webb for a foul.
Dani Alves
Brazil's Dani Alves makes a slide-tackle on Chile's Eugenio Mena.
Hulk
Hulk appeals to the assistant referee after having a goal for Brazil ruled out for a handball.
Alexis Sanchez
Chile's Alexis Sanchez waits for team-mates as he celebrates his first-half goal against Brazil.
David Luiz
David Luiz looks skyward in celebration of Brazil's first goal, which was later ruled an own-goal.
Arturo Vidal
Chile's Arturo Vidal steals a pass from in front of Brazil's Neymar.
Julio Cesar
Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar makes one of his two saves in the penalty shootout.
Chile team
A nervous bunch of Chilean players line up ahead of the penalty shootout.
Julio Cesar
Brazilian players swarm to goalkeeper Julio Cesar after defeating Chile 3-2 in a penalty shootout.
Neymar
Neymar puts a penalty shot past Claudio Bravo and into the net, the winning goal in the penalty shootout.
Dirk Kuyt
Holland's Dirk Kuyt battles for the ball with Mexico's Hector Herrera during their second round match in Fortaleza.
 Arjen Robben
Dutch winger Arjen Robben rides the tackle of Mexico captain Rafael Marquez during his side's 2-1 win.
 Arjen Robben
Netherlands midfielder Wesley Sneijder fires his side's equaliser past Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Robin van Persie
Netherlands striker Robin van Persie brings the ball under control.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Holland striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar celebrates scoring his side's winning goal from the penalty spot in injury time.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Giovani dos Santos wheels away after putting Mexico 1-0 up against the Netherlands.
Alvaro Gonzalez
Uruguay's Alvaro Gonzalez challenges Colombia's Pablo Armero during their second round match at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez scores his second goal past Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera to put Colombia 2-0 up.
Cristian Rodriguez
Uruguay midfielder Cristian Rodriguez tackles Colombia's Pablo Armero during their second round match in Rio de Janeiro.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez celebrates scoring his and Colombia's second goal with his team-mates.
Alexander Mejia
James Rodriguez scores with a sublime volley to put Colombia 1-0 up against South American rivals Uruguay.
James Rodriguez
James Rodriguez scores with a sublime volley to put Colombia 1-0 up against South American rivals Uruguay.
Bryan Ruiz
Costa Rica's Bryan Ruiz celebrates scoring the opening goal in their second round match with Greece in Recife.
Joel Campbell
Costa Rica's Joel Campbell and Greece's Konstantinos Manolas compete for the ball.
Oscar Duarte
Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte (second left) is shown a red card after his second bookable offence by referee Benjamin Williams.
Bryan Ruiz
Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz (second right) scores his team's first goal past Greek goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis.
Cristian Gamboa
Costa Rica's Cristian Gamboa slides in to halt the progress of Greece's Jose Cholevas.
Giorgos Samaras
Greece striker Giorgos Samaras controls the ball under the close attentions of Costa Rica's Oscar Duarte.
Theofanis Gekas
Greek midfielder Theofanis Gekas sees his penalty kick saved by Costa Rican goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Michael Umana
Costa Rica’s Michael Umana fires the winning penalty past Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis during the penalty shootout.
Yeltsin Tejeda
Costa Rica’s Yeltsin Tejeda celebrates with team-mates after defeating Greece in a penalty shootout.
Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane of France controls the ball against Ahmed Musa of Nigeria during their clash at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil.
Vincent Enyeama
Nigeria's Vincent Enyeama (right) checks on teammate Ogenyi Onazi as he lies on the pitch after a challenge against France.
Blaise Matuidi
France's Blaise Matuidi (14) and Mathieu Valbuena celebrate after winning their World Cup round of 16 game against Nigeria at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia.
Rio Mavuba
France's Mathieu Valbuena and Rio Mavuba (right) celebrate after winning their World Cup round of 16 game against Nigeria.
John Obi Mikel
John Obi Mikel of Nigeria challenges Paul Pogba of France during their round of 16 match at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, Brazil.
Raphael Varane
France's Raphael Varane is hit by the ball in the face beside Nigeria's Emmanuel Emenike (left).
Sofiane Feghouli
Algeria's Sofiane Feghouli is consoled by teammate Djamel Mesbah (back) after their loss to Germany at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Thomas Mueller
Thomas Mueller of Germany attempts a shot against Rais M'Bolhi of Algeria during the round of 16 match between Germany and Algeria at Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Jerome Boateng
Jerome Boateng and Per Mertesacker of Germany celebrate their team's second goal in extra time against Algeria.
Mesut Ozil
Germany's Mesut Ozil celebrates scoring his side's second goal during extra time against Algeria at the World Cup.
Mehdi Lacen
Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger (left) fights for the ball with Algeria's Mehdi Lacen during extra time round of 16 game at the Beira Rio stadium in Porto Alegre.
Yacine Brahimi
Yacine Brahimi of Algeria controls the ball against Mesut Oezil (left) and Sami Khedira of Germany.
Marcos Rojo and Josif Drmic
Argentina's Marcos Rojo jostles with Switzerland's Josif Drmic for possession in Sao Paulo.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne raises his arms in celebration as he watches his strike roll into the net.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne celebrate a goal in their round of 16 knockout clash against USA.
Kevin De Bruyne
Belgium's Divock Origi throws himself into the goal net, behind USA goalkeeper Tim Howard after narrowly missing a strike.
Angel Di Maria
Argentina's Angel Di Maria sends his love to the crowd while celebrating scoring against Switzerland in the round of 16.
Angel Di Maria
Switzerland's Valon Behrami jumps for the ball next to Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain.

Germany defender Per Mertesacker said coach Joachim Loew made the right decision to leave him on the bench in the quarterfinal at the World Cup in Brazil, adding he was happy to be the ''water boy and cheerleader'' if it helped.

Germany reached the World Cup semifinals for a record fourth time in a row with a 1-0 victory over France thanks to Mats Hummels' 13th minute header and Mertesacker believes Loew did everything perfectly in the game at the Maracana.

''The coach made all the right decisions and you can't have a more fortunate hand than he did,'' Mertesacker said of Loew's three changes to the lineup - including putting him on the bench despite his being near flawless in their first four matches.

Mats Hummels
GLORY IS HIS: Mats Hummels celebrates after nodding in the match-winning goal for Germany.

''He carries the overall responsibility and everyone on the team has a job to do. It doesn't matter to me if I'm the water boy or the cheerleader,'' added Mertesacker who carried water bottles to teammates during a break late in the match.

Loew went out of his way to praise the 29-year-old Mertesacker for the altruism that underscores Germany's team ethic, saying the Arsenal defender had taken the news that he would not play against France without even a whimper.

''When I told him last night, he said 'Alles klar' coach, I'm here to help the team any way I can','' Loew said.

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''It was incredibly professional. He's extremely important to the team.''

Mertesacker, who has 102 caps, was a bulwark of Loew's defence in their first four matches in which unbeaten Germany gave up only two goals, winning three and drawing one.

''On the pitch you can feel how strong our team spirit is, even if I got to see that from a different perspective today,'' Mertesacker said.

''We've got to keep that special quality to the end. It has to be like that. Otherwise, we don't have a chance to win the World Cup.

''We've got a great team. The only thing that might have been in short supply at times is that not everyone has always been able to be satisfied,'' he added, an oblique reference to reports that some leading players, such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, are not as content coming off the bench.

''I've grown so much,'' added Mertesacker.

''This is the third straight World Cup semi-final for a lot of us. We lost the last two. We don't want to repeat that again.''

HISTORY HAUNTS FRANCE

France came wanting to avenge ghosts of the past, but in the end the Maracana would be their graveyard.

With their typically organised style, German's win was well-deserved, if largely un-entertaining. Germany's winner, which came from the head of defender Mat Hummels in the 12th minute, was all the giants of European football would need.

It looked an inevitable result throughout. The German defensive effort, anchored by their hard-working captain Philip Lahm, showed few cracks - while midfielders Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger bossed the French around the middle of the park.

While they were able to keep German goal machine Thomas Muller at bay in the box, French opportunities to score were rare.

Juventus star Paul Pogba worked hard to provide Karim Benzema with good service in the first half before tiring, while Antonie Griezmann showed spark - only to be outdone by a general lack of French assistance in the second stanza.

Over the past 25 meetings, France held the slight edge over their European brothers with 11 victories to Germany's eight - along with six draws.

Of course, few people remember 1-0 friendlies played in Bordeaux or Hamburg - it's at the World Cup where games really count.

That's where the Germans had the clear edge, with victories over their European neighbours in the semifinals of both the 1982, and 1986 World Cups.

The 1982 encounter in Seville, Spain - considered one of the greatest games in World Cup history - featured one of the tournament's biggest ever talking points when German keeper Toni Schumacher broke the jaw of Patrick Battiston.

The Germans won on penalties after the match finished 3-3 in extra time, and from the early minutes of their latest arm wrestle in Rio de Janeiro, it looked like another goal fest was eminent.

Kroos and Schweinsteiger held the pace of the game; rarely allowing their opponents ascendancy in the middle of the park.

While Benzema's ninth minute wide attempt, after some clever French passing in the box, represented his side's only chance of the opening quarter, the Germans swarmed forward, showing no signs of a flu bug that had swept through their camp recently.

The opening goal came from a slick free kick from Kroos that Hummels was able to get his head on, thanks to some inept marking by French defender Raphael Varane.

The lead, combined with Germany's dominance, seemed to slump all French shoulders - but for those of Pogba.

The midfielder created space for his strikers to move, releasing Benzema and Mathieu Valbuena for good, but wasted opportunities.

Valbuena fired in France's best chance late in the half - forcing a fingertip save by Manuel Neuer.

The match's tempo wound right down in the second half with Germany expertly turning the screws.

Jerome Boateng and Hummels provided the Germans with a stonewall at the back of the park, with Pogba's creative chances limited.

The French, bizarrely, seemed to see their urgency ebb - and should have conceded a late second goal, but for poor finishing from Muller, and substitute striker Andrew Schuerrle.

The French would give the Maracana's 74,240 fans late heart palpitations with a Valbuena shot going wide of the left post - but ultimately it was the result between the European giants that the match's play actually warranted.