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Ninth World Cup goal

Müller fires Germany into last sixteen

Thomas Müller has retained his scoring touch at the World Cup in Brazil. The winner of the Golden Boot in 2010 scored the goal that ensured Germany topped Group G with a workmanlike victory over Jürgen Klinsmann’s USA in the final round of preliminary stage fixtures on Thursday night. Joachim Löw’s men beat the North Americans 1-0 and will now meet the runners-up from Group H in Porto Alegre next Monday. Despite the defeat, the USA also made the first knockout round after edging out Portugal on goal difference.

“We clearly dominated possession and the match. The Americans dropped very deep so we had to be patient. Taking the 90 minutes as a whole it was a decent performance. I’m very pleased with the team today,“ commented the match-winner, who is now up to nine goals at the finals and has drawn level with Uwe Seeler and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on Germany’s all-time roll of honour.

On a soaking wet afternoon in Recife, a Germany starting line-up featuring six Bayern men began brightly against the wary US team, but produced no real chances of note in a first half marked by tactical discipline and solid defending on both sides. Müller and Mesut Özil both had sniffs at goal but failed to get their shots away. Bastian Schweinsteiger returned to the starting formation and was a stabilising presence, as the 41,876 who braved local flooding to reach the Arena Pernambuco saw the experienced general teamed up with Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos to establish midfield dominance.

After the goalless first period, the deadlock was broken ten minutes after the restart by Müller, who stroked home from outside the box after Per Mertesaker’s header from a corner had been saved. Mario Götze became the seventh FCB man to grace the play when he replaced the exhausted Schweinsteiger a quarter hour from time as the three-time world champions comfortably saw off a last-gasp US rally to seal a deserved three points.