Germany tops group on Muller’s stellar show, USA in last 16
Germany’s Thomas Muller helps his side edge past a gritty USA 1-0 and top Group G
Recife (Brazil): Germany’s Thomas Muller is matching Lionel Messi and Neymar goal for goal as the celebrated forward also struck his fourth in this World Cup to help his side edge past a gritty USA 1-0 and top Group G here, with the American team also advancing to the last 16.
On a rainy afternoon, it was complete German domination at the start of the first half with the European powerhouse maintaining almost 70 per cent possession, which tested the US defense.
The Jurgen Klinsmann-coached side for once counter attacked with Garaham Suzie’s effort going barely over the bar after the Americans made their first collective move up the field.
Arsenal star Mesut Ozil also came up with a chance in the 35th minute after beating his defender but an alert US goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has a record 103 caps to his credit, was quick to fend it off.
In an otherwise clean half, Schalke 04 centre back Benedikt Howedes earned a cautionary yellow card after stopping an American counter-attack by pulling down US right back Fabian Johnson.
The half saw another booking after US midfielder Gonzalez dragged down Bastian Schweinsteiger before the No.7 could pass to Muller.
There was no change in the nature of weather come the second half but German coach Joachim Loew came up with one change in Miroslav Klose coming on the field for Lukas Podolski.
Klose (15 goals), who is currently Germany’s all-time top scorer having beaten the record previously held by Gerd Muller (14 goals), did try to head in a pass but missed the goal by a distance.
But Muller closed the gap as the celebrated forward found the back of the net for Germany in the 55th minute. The No.13, who struck his 9th World Cup goal in all fired in the rebound from the top of the area into the side netting.
Having recovered from a nasty head injury, the Bayern Munich star picked in the last drawn game against Ghana after collision of heads with defender John Boye, Muller was once again looking the impact player that he has been for the Germans.
In the last four World Cups Muller and Klose have scored 24 goals between themselves. Mario Goetze came off the bench in the 76th minute to replace Bastian Schweinsteiger but the Germans failed to net another goal despite various attempts from the forward line.
Howard continued to stand like a wall against the German attack as US attacked with a few run ins but failed to convert them into goals.
Though the scoreline did not suggest a very exciting game of football but the dug outs of both the teams’ did look satisfied with the outcome.
Muller was the star at Recife but US midfielder Omar Gonzalez also deserves a mention for his brave moves and strikes that failed to find the net but gave German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer many a scare.
A nervous US President Barack Obama also watched the match aboard Air Force One and was relieved when Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 in another Group G encounter, clearing the way for US to enter the pre-quarterfinals.