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U.S. advances despite loss to Germany

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RECIFE, Brazil — Thomas Mueller’s second-half goal saw Germany sail to a 1-0 victory over the United States in World Cup group play Thursday, a result that advanced both teams to the knockout stage of the tournament.

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Germany finished atop the group and will face Algeria, while the United States finished second and will face Group H winner Belgium. Portugal defeated Ghana 2-1 in the other Group G game, causing both teams to be eliminated.

The Germans dominated the game, creating very few chances.

The breakthrough came after 55 minutes when Tim Howard parried out a Per Mertesacker header but Mueller collected the loose ball on the edge of the area and side-footed it into the bottom corner.

“For once I scored a beautiful goal. If I don’t watch out I’ll become a legend? OK, I won’t watch out,” Mueller told ZDF Television after being told he had outscored Diego Maradona in World Cups.

“We are ready for the knockout stage. We keep working hard and we are full of team spirit.”

The game was threatened by a torrential downpour in the northeastern city of Recife on Thursday morning, but the heavy rain that hampered the preparations of fans and players eased to a drizzle as kickoff approached.

Despite the fact that both sides only needed a draw to qualify, there was no shortage of attacking in the lively opening exchanges, with Mueller going close early on from Lukas Podolski’s low cross.

Both sides flew into challenges in the battle for supremacy in midfield, and U.S. coach Juergen Klinsmann and his German counterpart Joachim Loew were glad the referee didn’t wave the yellow card more often as they head for the knockout stages.

The Americans, content to concede possession for long periods, put in a blue-collar defensive performance. They broke forward when the opportunity arose, but the Germans, with their superior technique and ball movement, were always a threat.

The U.S. had several chances of its own but lacked the pace and guile necessary to worry German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

“Everyone said we had no chance, but we took the chance and we move on, and now we really want to prove a point,” U.S. coach Klinsmann said.

“The commitment was great. I wish we had more possession and created more chances, but maybe we are saving that for the next one.

“It is huge, huge step and now we can’t wait for the round of 16.”

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