Germany confirm power shift with victory over Spain
(Toni Kroos 89)
On a wet, slick pitch on Spanish territory, the Germans completed a remarkable 2014.
How apt that they ended the year with a triumph over the former world-beaters, whose mantle they have assumed.
Not that Germany had anything to prove four months after they succeeded Spain as football's world champions.
This 1-0 victory over the Spaniards at Celta Vigo's Balaidos Stadium yesterday morning (Singapore time) was more symbolic than anything.
In fact, the quality of football in those difficult conditions left much to be desired.
But Toni Kroos' last-minute strike filled a little hollow that Germany didn't have a chance to plug during the World Cup.
The best team might have won in Brazil. But they didn't get to meet or beat the holders along the way.
Like the match-winner intimated, this win was the icing on the cake.
After the match, Kroos said: "The beauty of this victory against Spain puts the finishing touches to a great year, as it had been for Germany in 2014."
Even so, Germany coach Joachim Loew has already set about widening their base.
Of those who featured in the first 11 in the final against Argentina in July, only three started yesterday - Benedikt Hoewedes, Thomas Mueller and Kroos.
Mueller's involvement lasted just 23 minutes, however, as he had to retire from the game with a hurt back.
Loew's counterpart, Vicente del Bosque, took the chance to experiment too, with the likes of Juan Bernat, Bruno Soriano, Alvaro Morata and Nolito given the chance to impress.
The hosts controlled the match for most parts of the game. They might be a team in transition, but the touches remained confident, and the short-passing, possession game at times threatened to wear out the visitors.
Goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler, who used to be on the books of Manchester United and also spent three months on loan at Northampton Town, put in a solid display to keep out the Spanish attackers.
Germany's back five, which featured two wing-backs, held the fort well.
And yet, when the Germans broke, they did it with a sense of purpose and a combination of pace and movement.
Just when the game seemed destined to end goalless, Kroos struck, in the country where he now plies his trade.
The 24-year-old Real Madrid midfielder took advantage of the slippery surface by smashing a grounder from about 20 metres out.
The ball skidded off the turf and bounced into the goal off the hand of Spain's substitute goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.
Quoting the headlines of several reports, Spain were sunk by a "Kroos missile".
With it, Germany settled their unfinished business.