France's Blaise Matuidi, left, and Germany's Thomas Mueller battle for the ball during the World Cup quarterfinals at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. (AP Photo)
RIO DE JANEIRO — Germany reached the semifinals for a fourth straight World Cup by beating France 1-0 Friday in a cagey match settled by a first-half header from Mats Hummels.
The center back headed Toni Kroos' free kick in off the underside of the bar in the 13th minute in one of the few chances created in muggy conditions at Maracana Stadium.
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer punched away Karim Benzema's powerful drive in injury time to preserve the lead, having saved well from Mathieu Valbuena and Benzema in the first half.
Next up for Germany, seeking a fourth world title, will be Brazil, a 2-1 winner over Colombia in Friday's second semifinal.
The win guaranteed Europe at least one representative in the semifinals — the Netherlands and Belgium also have chances to qualify on Saturday — and continued Germany's recent dominance over France at World Cups.
The most notorious of those was the meeting in the 1982 semifinals in Spain, when Germany won on penalties following a 3-3 draw in a match marked by a late and high tackle by Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher on France defender Patrick Battiston that escaped punishment.
That went down as one of the most riveting matches in World Cup history, but the rematch — 32 years on — couldn't have been more different.
The occasion was perhaps too much for a young, revamped France team playing together in soccer's marquee tournament for the first time. The attacking flair that characterized much of its play in the group stage was largely absent in the 2-0 win over Nigeria in the second-round and again here in Rio de Janiero.
Tightening up both its defense and midfield, Germany selected a more robust team after looking shaky and open in a 2-1 win over Algeria in the second round and gave France little room to play.
It meant for a turgid first half of few opportunities but Hummels made no mistake with his, proving too strong for his marker, Raphael Varane, from a typically dead-eye delivery from Kroos.
Brazil 2, Colombia
FORTALEZA, Brazil — Brazil advanced to the World Cup semifinals for the first time in 12 years, getting goals from defenders Thiago Silva and David Luiz to beat Colombia.
Brazil, which had been eliminated in the quarterfinals at the last two World Cups, will next play Germany on Tuesday.
Silva gave Brazil the lead in the seventh minute, scoring with his left knee after a corner from Neymar. Luiz added the second from a free kick in the 69th, sending a swerving long-range shot into the top of the net.
Colombia pulled one back in the 80th when striker James Rodriguez scored his tournament-leading sixth goal from the penalty spot.
Rodriguez tried to control the pace for Colombia, but it was Brazil which created most of the scoring chances. Goalkeeper David Ospina had to make a series of saves in the first half alone. Colombia tried to pressure in the end after Rodriguez's penalty, but Brazil held on with tough defending.
The Brazilian fans in the crowd of 60,342 cheered in relief at the final whistle at the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, although there was concern over Neymar's health after the young striker was carried from the field late in the game following a knock to the back.
In another setback for Brazil, Silva received his second yellow card of the tournament in the 64th minute after trying to keep Ospina from putting the ball back in play, and will miss the match against Germany.comments powered by Disqus