RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — At a World Cup where substitutes have made more impact than ever, it was fitting that Mario Goetze came off the bench to win it, and another replacement supplied the inch-perfect cross.
Goetze's extra-time goal to beat Argentina and win the cup was the 32nd scored by a substitute in Brazil.
The previous best, 23 at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, is not even close.
Coming on in the 88th minute to replace Miroslav Klose, Goetze's two shots on target matched teammate Toni Kroos who played the full two hours. It was also as many as Argentina managed all night.
Even the cross for Goetze's beautifully balanced winning strike came from another substitute, Andre Shuerrle.
"I said from the start that 14 players have to be on the alert, that they have to be ready at all time," Germany coach Joachim Loew said.
Teams who used their squads well — like the third-place Netherlands and quarterfinalist Belgium — got their rewards with strong finishes and crucial late goals.
Loew had to call on 15 fully alert players on Sunday.
After midfielder Sami Khedira injured his calf in the warm-up, Christoph Kramer had a matter of minutes to prepare himself for a rare start.
Then Shuerrle was called on unexpectedly early when Kramer was unable to continue in the 31st minute with an apparent concussion from a collision with an Argentina defender's shoulder.
Still, Goetze's arrival for the 36-year-old Klose was all tactical by Loew after two earlier switches for injury
"With these temperatures, in this climate, you cannot play with the same 11 the entire match," said the coach, though the 23-degree (73F) temperature at kickoff was one of the cooler tests Germany had in Brazil.
Continue reading this story on the...