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September 25, 2017

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United Germany stands on top of the world

RIO DE JANEIRO - United they stand, right at the top of the soccer world.

And right on South American soil.

Germany won its fourth World Cup title on Sunday, but its first since a country torn apart by political divisions at the end of World War II was finally glued back together.

"It was always my dream to get on the summit and look down," said Miroslav Klose, a Polish-born Germany striker who is a perfect example of the country's unification and its diversity. "Incredible."

The Germany victory at the iconic Maracana Stadium was special for another reason, too. The Germans became the first European team to win a World Cup in the Americas, coming after they humiliated host Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals and then got the best of Argentina and Lionel Messi 1-0 in the final.

Along the way, Klose set the record for World Cup goals, scoring his 16th in the rout over Brazil to push himself ahead of Brazil striker Ronaldo.

Klose didn't score on Sunday at the Maracana, however. Instead, it was the man who replaced him in the 88th minute, Mario Goetze, that did.

Goetze's moment of brilliance, chesting the ball to control it and then volleying past Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero deep in extra time, was just another sample of the teamwork that has lifted this tightly knit Germany setup to the top.

"The team did it beautifully," said Manuel Neuer, voted the best goalkeeper of the tournament. "At some point we'll stop celebrating, but we'll still wake up with a smile."

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