The Norman Transcript

Sports

July 5, 2014

Germany hangs on to oust France

RIO DE JANEIRO — It just wouldn’t be the World Cup without Germany in the semifinals.

Harnessing all their big-game experience, the Germans delivered a performance of maturity and efficiency to hold off France 1-0 on Friday and become the first team to reach four straight semifinals in the sport’s marquee tournament.

Defender Mats Hummels capped a fine individual display at both ends of the pitch by scoring the winning goal in the 13th minute, outmuscling his marker at a free kick to glance a header in off the underside of the crossbar.

Criticized for poor defending in earlier matches, Germany selected a more robust lineup and restricted a flat-looking France team to only a handful of clear-cut opportunities in muggy conditions.

“There was not much in it,” France coach Didier Deschamps said. But, “we don’t have the international experience Germany has.”

While France’s young players slumped to the ground and some shed tears after the final whistle, the Germans soberly saluted all corners of the Maracana Stadium.

One job done, nothing more.

Next up for Germany is a meeting with the winner of Friday’s later quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia. It will be Germany’s 13th appearance in the semifinals in 20 editions of the World Cup.

“I guess we’re playing the kind of football which will give us a chance to win,” said Hummels, who produced a couple of decisive blocks to snuff out two good chances for France striker Karim Benzema.

“We defended well today . I think we deserve to carry on.”

France struggled to impose the kind of attacking game that made the team one of the most exciting in Brazil during the group stage, although Benzema missed some chances from good positions.

In the first half, the Real Madrid striker seized on a rebound following Manuel Neuer’s save from Mathieu Valbuena’s shot but his close-range effort was deflected wide by Hummels. Then, in stoppage time, he created space for himself about eight years out at an angle, but a fierce shot was swatted away by Neuer.

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