RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — With Thomas Mueller in a perfect position to pounce on a rebound, American cheers for yet another spectacular Tim Howard save didn't last long.
The U.S. goalkeeper was unable to cut down the angle after diving to punch away a deflected ball, and Mueller did what he does so well — calmly drive a first-time shot inside the far post for his ninth goal in nine career World Cup games, giving Germany a 1-0 victory.
"I saw the ball ricochet toward me, away from the goal keeper," Mueller said, a bandage and stitches over his right eye from a collision in his previous match. "I just focused on the ball and the far post, and I hit the ball the way I thought I would hit it, and that's it."
That's it, indeed. Germany wins again.
The 24-year-old Mueller isn't flashy, and didn't generate the pre-tournament talk of Brazil's Neymar or Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo. But the Bayern Munich star is tied with Neymar with four goals in Brazil after scoring a tournament-high five in South Africa.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, is going home, as have other high-profile stars such as England's Wayne Rooney and Italy's Mario Balotelli.
Mueller opened Germany's campaign in Brazil with a hat trick that powered his side to a stunning 4-0 demolition of Portugal. The result wound up helping the United States, which finished Group G play tied with Portugal on points for second, but with a better goal difference after holding the Germans to only Mueller's searing right-footed, 18-yard strike.
"Every nation in the world would love to have Thomas Mueller on their team. That's without question," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said.
Though failing to score in Germany's 2-2 draw with Ghana, Mueller didn't spare his body in an effort to find a match winner. Sprinting into the penalty area for a long ball as time was running out, he was involved in a hard collision which left blood all over his face.
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