World Cup 2014: USA 0-1 Germany
USA 0-1 Germany: Muller makes the difference for die Mannschaft
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USA progressed to the knockout stages of the World Cup despite going down 1-0 to Germany on Thursday.
Thomas Muller continued his phenomenal World Cup form to seal top spot for Germany in Group G, while Portugal's 2-1 win over Ghana in Brasilia meant the USA progressed on goal difference at the expense of Paulo Bento's men.
Bayern Munich forward Muller claimed the Golden Boot in South Africa four years ago and scored a hat-trick in Germany's emphatic 4-0 opening win over Portugal this time around.
And 10 minutes after half-time in a rain-lashed Recife, Muller netted superbly from 18 yards, chalking up his ninth finals goal.
A draw at the Arena Pernambuco would have ensured progression for Germany and USA regardless of events in the capital, but any fears of collusion were brushed aside by a keenly contested affair - which briefly appeared under threat earlier in the day as torrential rain flooded roads in the surrounding area.
Joachim Low handed Lukas Podolski a first start of the tournament on the left side of his attack and the Arsenal forward blazed over in the second minute, as Germany pinned back their opponents during the opening stages.
Omar Gonzalez, preferred at centre-back to Geoff Cameron by USA coach Jurgan Klinsmann, made a vital 14th-minute interception when Muller looked set to convert Jerome Boateng's low cross.
But the USA grew into the game as a counter-attacking force and Graham Zusi arched a shot narrowly over from the left corner of the box midway through the first half.
By the time Tim Howard shovelled a Mesut Ozil effort to safety in the 34th minute, following a shimmying run from the Arsenal man, a more even contest had developed, although that was at the expense of the earlier intensity.
At half-time Low introduced veteran striker Miroslav Klose, hunting for an outright claim to the all-time World Cup finals goal record following his equaliser against Ghana last Saturday.
Gonzalez produced another vital intervention in the 48th minute to stop Ozil heading Germany in front, while Klose was unable to adjust in time to convert Philipp Lahm's cross.
Pressure told in the 55th minute when Muller smashed home emphatically from the edge of the box after Howard had parried Per Mertesacker's header.
The USA visibly rallied as news of Asamoah Gyan's equaliser for Ghana filtered through - a victory for the African nation would have seen them progress on goals scored, pipping the States for a third tournament in succession.
But a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal ensured Klinsmann's side, who went close in stoppage time as Alejandro Bedoya saw a goal-bound shot blocked by Lahm and Clint Dempsey headed over, will face the winners of Group H in Salvador on Tuesday.
That appears likely to be Belgium, while Algeria, South Korea and Russia all remain in the hunt to face Germany 24 hours earlier in Porto Alegre.
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