Germany have won an engrossing World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, beating Argentina 1-0 in extra-time.
Mario Gotze was the hero, controlling the ball on his chest and volleying it past Argentinean goalkeeper Sergio Romero in the 113th minute.
Argentina squandered numerous chances to win the match before the Bayern Munich attacker struck, although Germany’s Manuel Neuer was relatively untested throughout the 120 minutes.
Speaking after the match Neuer, who was named the best goalkeeper of Brazil 2014, said: “We’re going to celebrate for at least five weeks now.
“At some point we’ll stop celebrating but we’ll always keep waking up with a smile.”
Much of the pre-match hype focused on Lionel Messi, and Argentina’s star man had his moments during the game.
Messi’s best chance came just after half-time when he flashed a shot across goal, but there was to be no fairytale ending for one of the world’s best players in the biggest game in football.
When the final whistle went, Germany’s players collapsed in a pile in the middle of the pitch, while Messi walked with his hands on his hips toward the centre circle.
He was named the player of the tournament, but the award will be scant consolation.
Coach Alejandro Sabella, said: “I feel sadness not to have been able to win the tournament but pride in the team that played a great game.
“I congratulate the players. They are a pride to the nation for the efforts they made and the tournament they played.”
The early signs had been encouraging for Argentina.
Gonzalo Higuain squandered a glorious opportunity to open the scoring after 20 minutes when Toni Kroos’s misplaced header put him through on goal, but he pulled his shot well wide.
The striker later had the ball in the net, only to discover he was offside.
Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Miroslav Klose and Benedikt Howedes had opportunities for Germany, who dominated possession.
But Argentina were always dangerous on the counter, and another excellent chance came their way in extra-time.
Rodrigo Palacio could have scored when a cross was not cleared properly, but his lob went wide.
Argentina’s profligacy was punished by Gotze’s memorable strike, and the final whistle minutes later meant the German party could begin.
The triumph in the Maracana is Germany’s first as a unified country; West Germany won the World Cup in 1954, 1974 and 1990.
It is also the first time a European team has won a World Cup held in South America.