World champions Germany defeated Chile 1-0 on Sunday to win its first Confederations Cup title.
Lars Stindl scored Germany’s only goal in the 20th minute when Chile midfielder Marcelo Diaz gave the ball away on the edge of his own area.
Chile, playing with their trademark high octane style and driven forward by another relentless display by Arturo Vidal, dominated the match but were let down by poor finishing.
A dramatic game at St. Petersburg featured missed chances, defensive howlers, scuffles and two video reviews, one producing a highly controversial outcome in the second half.
Chile defender Gonzalo Jara elbowed Timo Werner by the touchline and Serbian referee Milorad Mazic, alerted by the video assistants, let him off with a yellow card instead of a red.
Shortly afterwards, Mazic turned down Chilean appeals for a penalty, stood by his original decision after another review incident and booked Eduardo Vargas for drawing an imaginary television screen.
It was a remarkable achievement for Germany to lift the trophy with a young, experimental squad, although it could also be a bad omen as no team has ever won the World Cup after winning the Confederations Cup the year before.
“The fact that these young players have won this tournament makes it an historic achievement, it’s unique in Germany’s history, it’s outstanding,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
Chile flew into the game in their inimitable style and Alexis Sanchez should have put them in front, but shot wide from close range after keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen parried Vidal’s shot.
Germany struck almost immediately as Diaz lost the ball on the edge of his penalty area to Timo Werner who slipped it through for Stindl to score into an open goal.
Chile kept missing their chances, continued to look vulnerable on the break and nearly gifted Germany another goal before halftime when Jara gave the ball away in defense, but this time Claudio Bravo saved Leon Goretzka’s shot.
Germany were happy to contain Chile and play on their mistakes in the second half, although they were living dangerously at times.
Substitute Angelo Sagal scooped the ball over the bar from close range and Ter Stegen pushed away an Alexis Sanchez free kick in almost the last action of the game.
“We put our ideas into practice,” said Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. “We took the initiative, we took control and created chances…. but because of one of those things, those accidents, that happen in football, it was our turn to lose.”
Victory in St. Petersburg came two days after Germany beat Spain in the Under-21 European Championship final, signaling a bright future for a country which will return to Russia in a year to defend the World Cup won in Brazil in 2014.
Only three members of that 2014 squad even made the trip to Russia. The squad didn’t rely on one star to carry it to glory, with goals shared throughout the team. Stindl, Werner and Leon Goretzka netted three apiece across five matches.
“Jokingly, we could say that now we have to think about which of the players we left at home we can still add to this team next year,” Loew said. “Seriously though, we have created alternatives, by giving young players experience.”