Masterful Mueller the difference as Germany, U.S. go through

Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:40pm EDT
 
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By Philip O'Connor

RECIFE Brazil (Reuters) - Thomas Mueller's netted his fourth goal in three World Cup games in a 1-0 win over the USA to give Germany top spot in Group G and send them into knockout stages full of confidence following a dominant display at the Pernambuco arena in Recife.

Deployed at center forward by Germany coach Joachim Loew, Mueller was a constant thorn in the side of the Americans with his clever running and incisive passing, before popping up on the edge of the area just before the hour mark to decide the game.

Mueller's goal means Germany top the group and will face the runner-up in Group H while the United States finish second and will face Group H's winner. Portugal, who beat Ghana 2-1, are eliminated along with the Africans.

The game in the north-eastern city of Recife had been threatened by a torrential downpour on Thursday morning, and outside the arena the city's street sellers did a roaring trade in rain ponchos as drenched fans sought a little protection from the incessant rain.

But the heavy rain that hampered the preparations of fans and players alike, flooding city streets and causing traffic chaos on routes leading to the ground, eased to a drizzle as kickoff approached.

The Germans seemed oblivious to both the conditions and the fact that a scoreless draw would be enough for them to progress as group winners, attacking from the first whistle, dominating possession and sweeping dangerous passes in behind U.S. left back DaMarcus Beasley.

With the Americans content for the most part to concede possession, the quick ball movement of the Germans allowed them space to probe patiently in front of the massed U.S. ranks.

Klinsmann's side put in a blue-collar performance, hustling and harrying without the ball and then breaking forward quickly to attack on the counter when they did win possession, but ultimately they lacked the pace and guile to unduly trouble Manuel Neuer in the German goal.   Continued...

 
Clint Dempsey of the U.S. gestures after the team's 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match against Germany at the Pernambuco arena in Recife June 26, 2014. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich