• France 0-1 Germany, World Cup quarter-final

Germany reach record fourth straight semi-final

ESPN staff
July 4, 2014
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris could do nothing about Mats Hummel's header © Getty Images

Germany reached the World Cup semi-finals for a record fourth straight time and 13th overall as a goal from centre-back Mats Hummels was enough to beat France 1-0 at the Maracana.

Joachim Low, who also guided Germany to the last four in South Africa four years ago, sprung a surprise by starting Miroslav Klose up front and moving captain Philipp Lahm to right-back from the central midfield berth he had occupied for most of the tournament.

It was Klose's first start at this year's finals - he did not feature at all in the round of 16 victory over Algeria - but he was unable to grab the goal that would have seen him become the World Cup's outright all-time leading scorer.

Manuel Neuer saved expertly from Karim Benzema deep into injury time © Getty Images

Germany instead had a defender to thank for their winning goal as Hummels escaped the clutches of Raphael Varane to expertly head home Toni Kroos' 13th-minute free kick.

It was Hummels' second goal at the tournament following his strike against Portugal in the group stage.

Before going behind, France had come close to opening the scoring when Mathieu Valbuena teed up Karim Benzema, only for the Real Madrid man to slot the ball wide. Moments later, Antoine Griezmann - replacing Olivier Giroud in the starting lineup - sprung the offside trap but failed to cross for an unmarked Benzema.

With France's midfield trio of Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi struggling to exert the sort of influence they managed in previous games, Germany enjoyed the better of possession, though it was France who had a real opportunity to equalise before half-time - Manuel Neuer saving brilliantly from Valbuena and Hummels preventing Benzema from bundling in the rebound.

After the interval, France gained a foothold in the game but struggled to break through Germany's resolute defence. Loic Remy was thrown on by Deschamps and he looked to make an early impact, chasing down a Varane pass and playing in Benzema, only for the striker to see his shot blocked.

Matuidi went close for France as Neuer saved his half-volleyed effort before Germany should have put the game to bed - a late three on two counter-attack resulting in Hugo Lloris making a smart save from Andre Schurrle.

Benzema had one final opportunity in the fourth minute of stoppage time but Neuer produced an excellent save to preserve the 1-0 victory.

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