Miroslav Klose of Germany celebrates amid a 7-1 win against Brazil in a FIFA World Cup 2014 semifinal. Germany went on to defeat Argentina in a 1-0 final game, earning the nation's fourth title. MCT PHOTO

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — With two quick and sublimely deft touches, Mario Götze ended Germany’s 24-year wait for another World Cup title.

Götze scored the winning goal in extra time to give Germany a 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday in a tight and tense World Cup final.

It was a goal that gave Germany its fourth World Cup title in its eighth final and left Argentina star Lionel Messi still walking in the shadow of his compatriot Diego Maradona, who led his country to the 1986 title.

World Cup championships by country

CountryTimes won
Brazil5
Germany4
Italy4
Argentina2
Uruguay2
France1
England1
Spain1

For Germany, the win ends a string of near misses since winning its last major title at the 1996 European Championship. The team lost the 2002 World Cup final to Brazil and lost in the semifinals in both 2006 and 2010.

“It’s incredible; the team did it beautifully,” said Manuel Neuer, who was voted the tournament’s best goalkeeper. “At some point, we’ll stop celebrating, but we’ll still wake up with a smile.”

It is Germany’s first World Cup title as a unified nation, having won as West Germany in 1954, 1974 and 1990. 

Shortly afterward, the German team made its way up the stairs for captain Philipp Lahm to raise the hallowed 18-carat gold trophy as confetti rained down and fireworks exploded in the sky.

“It’s incredible how hard we worked and what a performance we produced,” Lahm said. “It’s an incredible feeling.”