Andre Schurrle and Mesut Ozil scored in extra time to send Germany into the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals with a grueling 2-1 victory over Algeria in the round of 16 on Monday at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Schurrle, a half-time substitute, flicked in Thomas Muller's low pass in the 92nd minute to put Germany ahead. Ozil then added a second one minute from the end of extra time, but Abdelmoumene Djabou pulled one back for Algeria in the closing seconds to set up a tense finish.
The Africans had a goal ruled out correctly for offside in the first half, but matched Germany for 90 minutes thanks in part to a fine performance from goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi, who made 10 saves.
If anything, though, Germany's Manuel Neuer matched him, coming off his line repeatedly to clear danger—particularly in the first half as Algeria attacked relentlessly.
With the victory, Germany moved on to the quarter-finals to play France on Friday in Rio de Janeiro. The winner of that match will face either Brazil or Colombia in the semi-finals.
To make it that far, though, Germany will have to improve on what was perhaps their least effective attacking performance so far in Brazil. After routing Portugal 4-0 in their opener and finishing the group stage with seven goals, Low's side were second-best for long stretches against Algeria before finally finishing off the dangerous and well-drilled Algerian side in extra time.
The match started in unexpected fashion as Algeria outplayed Germany for most the first half, causing problems for their more fancied opponents with speed, power and direct attacking down the flanks.
A first warning sign for Germany came in the ninth minute, when Neuer raced far out of his box to block Islam Slimani, who had slipped past the defence. One minute later, Per Mertesacker had to make a well-timed tackle to keep Slimani from running free on goal again.
Germany then had a first sight of goal in the 15th minute as Bastian Schweinsteiger's high shot was pushed away by M'Bolhi. Algeria came close again moments later, Sofiane Feghouli firing high and wide from a tight angle after wriggling free on the right.
Algeria looked to have taken the lead in the 17th minute as Slimani headed in Faouzi Ghoulam's cross, but the goal was ruled out correctly for offside. One minute later, Ghoulam flashed a dangerous ball across the face of goal after slipping free from his marker on the left.
Germany began to show signs of life shortly before half-time. Thomas Muller headed wide from Bastian Schweinsteiger's cross in the 34th minute, and Mesut Ozil saw his bouncing shot saved easily three minutes later.
But Algeria were still creating plenty of danger of their own. In the 39th minute, Mehdi Mostefa hit a powerful half-volley that was deflected just wide of the post, with Neuer stranded.
At the other end, Toni Kroos forced M'Bolhi into another save with a rasping shot from distance. Mario Gotze followed up, but his close-range shot was saved as well.
With the match scoreless at half-time, Low decided to make a change, introducing Schurrle in place of Gotze on the left side of the attack. Schurrle nearly made an instant impact, but his deflected shot bounced inches wide of the post in the 48th minute.
Germany were clearly energised, and another chance arrived moments later, Benedikt Howedes heading straight at M'Bolhi from a central position in the box. M'Bolhi had to be alert again in the 55th minute to tip away Philipp Lahm's well-placed shot from distance.
The tension built and the chances continued to flow as full-time approached. Feghouli fired wide in the 74th minute, and Slimani shot straight at Neuer one minute later. At the other end, Schweinsteiger flicked a header off target from Muller's cross in the 79th minute.
Germany then came close twice in the 80th minute. First, M'Bolhi saved Muller's header from close range. Then, the Algeria goalkeeper pushed away Schurrle's attempt on the rebound.
Muller had another chance two minutes later, finding space for himself in a dangerous position after pulling down a high ball in the box. But the Bayern Munich mis-hit his shot, sending the ball harmlessly off target.
Neuer raced off his line yet again in the 89th minute to cut off another Algeria attack, beating Feghouli to the ball well outside the box. One minute later, M'Bolhi saved easily after Schweinsteiger could only direct a weak header on target.
Still scoreless after 90 minutes, the match went into extra time. But within two minutes of the restart, all of Algeria's work was undone.
M'Bolhi, who had starred throughout, was finally beaten as Schurrle flicked in brilliantly from close range with his trailing leg. Muller recorded the assist, picking out the Chelsea man with a pinpoint pass from the left.
Having finally broken Algeria's resistance, Germany set out in search of more. Muller had a shot blocked in the 96th minute and then drove another off target three minutes later. But Algeria still posed a threat as well, Mostefa missing the target after a Sami Khedira mis-kick fell invitingly for him in the German box.
The pace dropped considerably in the second half of stoppage time, and Algeria's defence exhausted, Ozil added Germany's second goal in the 119th minute, slamming in the rebound after substitute Christoph Kramer's initial shot was cleared off the line.
It looked little more than gloss on the scoreline, but it turned out to be vital as Djabou pulled one back for Algeria in the 121st minute. Improbably, Algeria had one more chance moments later, Slimani heading straight at Neuer with the game's final chance.
|Germany Player Ratings|
|Starting XI||Half-Time||Full-Time||Extra Time|
|Andre Schurrle (for Gotze, 46')||N/A||6||8|
|Sami Khedira (for Mustafi, 70')||N/A||5||6|
|Christoph Kramer (for Schweinsteiger, 109')||N/A||N/A||6|
|Algeria Player Ratings|
|Starting XI||Half-Time||Full-Time||Extra Time|
|El Arbi Soudani||6||6||6|
|Yacine Brahimi (for Taider, 78')||N/A||5||6|
|Madjid Bougherra (for Halliche, 97')||N/A||N/A||6|
|Abdelmoumene Djabou (for Soudani, 100')||N/A||N/A||7|
Germany's Andre Schurrle said his goal owed a bit to luck, telling ZDF (h/t Goal.com):
Obviously we wanted to win the match earlier. But Algeria did well, they pressured us from the beginning. I scored almost the exact same goal in Mainz three weeks ago. So I am capable of it, but of course I had a little luck.
We had many chances in the last 10 minutes of the 90, but we missed them. Now we are at the quarter-finals. We need to relax, and then play France.
Meanwhile, Germany defender Per Mertesacker defended his team's performance, telling ZDF (h/t Goal.com):
I don't care. We're in the last eight and that's what counts.
What do you want from me? Do you believe there is a carnival team here in the round of last 16? We went over 120 minutes and we fought until the end and I think we won deservedly.
What do you want? Should we play beautiful again and then drop out? Seriously, I don't understand these questions.