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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup: Germany beat France to enter semis

World Cup: Germany beat France to enter semis

Last updated on: July 05, 2014 00:07 IST

Germany's Mats Hummels (secong from right) heads the ball to score the team's goal against France

An early Mats Hummels header proved enough for Germany to beat France 1-0 in a tense, error-strewn and largely uninspiring World Cup quarter-final at the Maracana on Friday.

The defender scored the only goal of a match neither team ever took control of when he headed in a free-kick from Toni Kroos after 13 minutes.

In a game of few clear chances, Germany 'keeper Manuel Neuer denied France a chance of an extra 30 minutes when he blocked Karim Benzema's effort deep into stoppage time.

Germany, the first country to qualify for four successive semi-finals, will meet either hosts Brazil or Colombia in the semi-finals next week. The South Americans meet in the second quarter-final of the day in Fortaleza.

"It wasn’t easy today. It was brutally hot, especially in the sun. We did it as a team," said Germany captain Philipp Lahm.

"We were well-organised. These were two good teams against each other. We got the first goal and they had to come to us. It’s clear that you’re not going to have an easy opponent in the quarter-final."

France coach Didier Deschamps rued a game that got away from his side.

"We had our chances. But they had more experience than we did. They had us under control and they controlled that one goal lead well," he said.

"It’s unfortunate. But our team isn’t used to big meetings like this. The difference wasn’t that big today between us and Germany. But they advanced."

Germany did just enough to reach the last eight and Joachim Loew's side will have to play much better to reach their first final since 2002.

The three-time winners went ahead when they won a free kick on the left after Paul Pogba fouled Kroos who took the free kick himself and swung a perfectly flighted ball towards Hummels.

The centre-back launched himself at the ball and held off defender Raphael Varane in the same movement and powerfully flicked the ball in with it grazing the underside of Hugo Lloris's bar for his second goal of the tournament.

France took time to respond but came close to an equaliser in the 34th minute when Mathieu Valbuena shot from close range but was denied by a superb save from Neuer who turned the ball away with his left hand.

Either because of the sun beating down from a cloudless sky or because of the tension of the occasion, neither team played well, although France were particularly poor.

Both made error after error and the game rarely set the pulses racing until the last 15 minutes as Francedesperately searched for the equaliser that never came.

Substitute Andre Schuerrle, who replaced Miroslav Klose after 67 minutes, should have doubled Germany's lead but his low strike was blocked by Lloris.

Klose will have to wait another day for a tilt at becoming the outright highest scorer in World Cup history with 16 goals.

He shares the current record of 15 with Brazilian Ronaldo but he never had a serious attempt on target.

Image: Germany's Mats Hummels of Germany (No 5) heads the ball to score the team's goal against France in the quarter-finals.

Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

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