Andre Schurrle scored a brace as Germany booked their place in Sunday’s World Cup final with one of the most memorable international performances in living memory, beating hosts Brazil 7-1 in Belo Horizonte.
Joachim Low’s side produced a remarkable first-half display, scoring five times in the space of 18 unbelievable minutes, stunning the home supporters – who prior to the game had belted out the national anthem with such admirable patriotism – into silence.
Friday’s quarter-final against Colombia, in which Brazil took an early lead, seemed a world away for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side who fell behind after just 11 minutes.
The goal, particularly given the magnitude of the occasion, was one of breathtaking simplicity, as Thomas Muller arrived unmarked in the penalty area, in acres of space, to volley home a Bastian Schweinsteiger corner.
From a defensive point of view it really was a poor goal to concede.
Miroslav Klose then made history, becoming the World Cup’s record goalscorer to double Germany’s lead, tapping into an empty net after Julio Cesar had saved his initial effort. It was Klose’s 16th goal in the competition.
Just a minute later the game was all but ended as a contest when Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos added his name to the scoresheet with a sweet left-footed drive.
Mesut Ozil released Phillip Lahm down the right-hand side, and while Muller swung his foot at thin air as the delivery came in, the ball rolled invitingly into the path of Kroos who dispatched his strike with aplomb.
The Brazilian players looked visibly stunned by what was taking place but the Germans were in no mood to offer them a route back into the game, and if the home side thought it couldn’t get any worse they were proved wrong virtually from the restart.
Germany pressed high up the pitch, forcing Fernandinho into a sloppy pass; Kroos reacted quickest, pouncing on the loose ball and driving forward, before exchanging passes with Sami Khedira and rolling the ball into the back of the net.
There were just 179 seconds between Germany’s second and fourth goals.
A thumping was becoming an all-out humiliation for the home side, and worse was still to come as three minutes later they found themselves 5-0 down.
Germany were opening the Brazilians up at will, slicing through a virtual non-existent defence every time they attacked.
Khedira had been instrumental during the opening half-hour, and he got the goal his display had merited when he fired home from the edge of the box following good build-up play between Ozil and Klose.
Somewhat surprisingly given what had taken place, Brazil were able to see out the remaining 16 minutes of the first half without conceding and, with damage limitation his priority at the break, Scolari replaced Fernandinho and the ineffective Hulk with Ramires and Paulinho.
To their credit, Brazil began the second half positively, looking to give their supporters something to cheer, and they should have pulled one back when both Oscar and Paulinho were denied twice in quick succession.
Equally, though, Germany had their tails up and sensed there were more goals in it for them. Schurrle was introduced just before the hour and almost teed up Muller for a sixth, only for Cesar to make a brilliant save.
The Chelsea winger’s positive running off the ball, however, was proving a useful outlet on the break, and after threatening on a couple of occasions he made it 6-0 with 21 minutes left on the clock.
Once again, the Germans made it look so easy; Kroos found Lahm, whose cross was a simple one, but as the Brazilian defence remained static, Schurrle pounced and rolled his strike beyond Cesar.
It was Schurrle’s second goal of the competition, and moments later he added a third with undoubtedly the pick of the bunch, bringing a ball down out of the air with one touch, pulling away from former team-mate David Luiz and firing an unstoppable drive past Cesar off the bar.
It was almost too much to take for some of the home supporters inside the stadium, who were unable to contain their frustration.
Willian had been introduced at the expense of Fred with the score at 6-0, while Ramires showed enough in the second half to suggest he should have started the game.
Oscar pulled one back for the hosts in the 90th minute, finishing brilliantly, but it was no consolation given what had gone before, and it’s Germany who reach their first World Cup final since 2002, where they will play either Argentina or the Netherlands.
For Brazil, their involvement in the competition has come to an end in the most dramatic manner.