RECIFE, Brazil (AP) — Thomas Muller scored his fourth goal of the World Cup on Friday as Germany defeated the United States 1-0 to win Group G ahead of the Americans, who also advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup despite losing.
With two wins and a draw, Germany topped the group with seven points, while the U.S. progressed with four. Portugal beat Ghana 2-1 but both were eliminated. Portugal also finished with four points but the U.S. had a better goal difference.
Muller scored in the 55th minute with a side-footed shot from the edge of the area as tropical downpours drenched the Arena Pernambuco. Both teams knew before kickoff that a draw would see them through, but neither held back.
The game pitted Germany coach Joachim Low against his good friend and predecessor Jurgen Klinsmann, now in charge of the U.S. team. The two coaches smiled as they shook hands and patted each other on the shoulder after the match. Germany's goal came after a corner by Mesut Ozil. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard did well to punch out a header by Per Mertesacker but the ball fell kindly to Mueller, who pounced on the rebound and rifled a shot inside the far post from the edge of the penalty area.
Muller played despite needing five stitches to close a cut above his right eye sustained in the 2-2 draw with Ghana on Saturday and still visible five days later. The United States had a chance to level the match in stoppage time, but Alejandro Bedoya's low shot inside the box was swept away by the sliding Mario Gotze, a late substitute. The Americans got a corner but Clint Dempsey's header at the far post went high.
Low reshuffled his lineup by bringing in forward Lukas Podolski for Gotze and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger for Sami Khedira. Center back Geoff Cameron was replaced in the U.S. lineup by Omar Gonzalez.
There were many empty seats in the Arena Pernambuco when the match kicked off but fans streamed in during the first half, apparently delayed by traffic jams as torrential rain flooded parts of this northeastern Brazilian city. Germany was quicker off the mark and Howard intercepted a low cross from Podolski before Michael Bradley made a good clearance and Gonzalez defended well to deny Muller a shot from close range. Howard's 103th cap was a record for a U.S. goalkeeper and he did well to stop Ozil's shot in the 35th minute.
Graham Zusi had the first good shot for the U.S. but his effort in the 22nd went high. Referee Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan collided accidentally with Jermaine Jones in the 28th and the American midfielder went down hard but got up. The referee shrugged off the challenge. Miroslav Klose came on for Podolski at the start of the second half but failed to score and grab sole possession of the World Cup scoring record that he now shares with Brazil's Ronaldo at 15. Ozil beat Gonzalez to a cross at the start of the second half but sent his header high, while Klose connected with a cross from Schweinsteiger but was off balance and did not get off a clean header.
Here's how the dramatic final day of Group G unfolded: