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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff
Jul 4, 2014

Joachim Low hails Germany defence

German goal scorer Mats Hummels says his side did not play a perfect match, but that they were deserving winners.

Germany coach Joachim Low praised his side's defensive resolve following the 1-0 quarterfinal victory against France.

- Delaney: France run out of steam
- Jones: A frustrating afternoon in Rio
Deschamps: We tried until the end

Die Nationalmannschaft secured a place in the semifinals -- for a fourth World Cup in a row -- thanks to Mats Hummels' first-half header.

France, although not at their best, went in search of an equaliser as the game wore on, but struggled to ever really find a way past the Germany defence.

"In the second half, the French certainly tried to attack and they had nothing to lose. Towards the end, they had more players up front and had long balls. They had to score, so they went for everything. I thought Jerome [Boateng] and Mats were able to solve those problems," Low told his postmatch news conference.

"Both teams showed a great performance on the defensive side. So many goalscoring opportunities were not there. I also think in the final third, we could have scored the second goal, but both teams were set up defensively and had a good tactical system."

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Low added: "We saw that players who were injured had to go to their limits. Remember the Algeria match with extra time, so it's a matter of bringing all our forces together and to see if they can recover well.

"It is certainly not easy for us Europeans to start playing at 1pm. You can hardly breathe and move, and for us, we are not used to that. It is difficult to try to control the match and keep your concentration at a peak level, but we managed that pretty well."

Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer did not have too much to do throughout the game, but when called upon he made some vital saves to thwart France.

"The confidence in Manuel Neuer does not just come from me," Low said. "It comes from our whole team and it's a really great feeling for the defenders, knowing that he is very good in the box and outside the box. He's a great football player and you can pass the balls into him like he is a defender.

"He is superb on the line and since 2010 he is among the very best in the world, probably the best in the world. He's so cool and calm and this gives a lot of confidence to the rest of the players on the pitch."

Neuer came to his side's rescue to push away a 94th-minute Karim Benzema effort, and the goalkeeper said: "It was just instinctive, it comes naturally.

"Of course, to be able to play in this stadium, and it being a World Cup quarterfinal, and then to put in this performance on top -- it's all worthy of a place in the semifinal.

"We played good football and wanted to get through, and now we're looking forward to our next game.''

Hummels was thrilled to score the game's decisive goal and is hopeful that Germany still have a couple of wins left in them before the tournament is over.

"This is the next dream to have become reality and the next positive moment here in Brazil and I hope it's not the last either,'' Hummels told Germany's ARD. "I hope it's not over now and that we can manage to win again in five days' time."

Germany captain Philipp Lahm added: "We're in the semifinals so who cares about anything else. It wasn't easy today, especially not in the sun, but we worked well as a team and the team comes first.

"We should maybe have made it 2-0. We wasted a great counter-attack, so that meant it remained tight to the end, but it was a good performance for us and we're in the semis.

"It was a 50/50 game, but we got the goal first and then they had to come at us. This is a quarterfinal of a World Cup and you never play against a side who have no chance against you.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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