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World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

( Updated: 2014-07-02 18:01

Mueller muffs freekick trick

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

A freekick that provided one of the most comical moments of the World Cup, when Germany's Thomas Mueller stumbled before stepping over the ball, was a rehearsed trick that went wrong.

Germany earned a freekick in the 88th minute of their round of 16 match against Algeria. After a huddle, Bastian Schweinsteiger ran and stepped over the ball. Mueller followed but stumbled, then got up and ran over the ball and behind the Algerian wall. Toni Kroos then tried to chip the ball to him but it was low and easily cleared.

A smiling Mueller told German TV: "It almost worked," and did not rule out trying it again. Kroos said the move had worked in training, "but it looks awful when it doesn't work."

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Howard sets new record

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Despite conceding two goals in extra time, veteran US goalkeeper Tim Howard, 35, was named most valuable player in the match which Belgium won 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

Howard made 16 crucial saves, eclipsing the World Cup record of 13 set by Peru's Ramon Quiroga in 1978 against the Netherlands.

After Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring, Howard fell back on the grass almost in slow-motion, arms and legs outstretched and eyes staring up into the darkness.

Calling the US loss heartbreaking, Howard said: "I don't think we could have given any more. What a great game of football. We got beat by a really great team. It's heartache. It hurts."

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Messi wins fourth straight MVP

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Lionel Messi fell, then jumped back to his feet with a little help from the gentlemanly Swiss player who had knocked him down. This happened all afternoon, because Argentina is still a one-man show attracting all of every opponent's attention.

The Swiss swarmed Messi from every angle, and his chances were few, but he still delivered the key pass which won him most valuable player for the fourth straight time in Brazil.

He made one last run on tired legs to help send Argentina back to the quarterfinals with a captivating 1-0 extra-time victory.

"We know that Messi in one second can decide a match," Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who later announced his retirement from coaching, said.

Messi, who turned 27 on June 24, scored four of his team's six goals to help Argentina capture top spot in Group F and those performances helped erase some of the sting of going without a goal in South Africa four years ago, when Argentina lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarterfinals.

Diego Maradona, the former Argentine coach who led his country to its last World Cup title as a player in 1986 in Mexico City, said he considers Messi the best player in the world regardless of whether he wins a World Cup.

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Bolivian leader backs Suarez

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Ousted Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez gained an unexpected number of supporters including Bolivian President Evo Morales, who expressed his solidarity with Uruguay and its favorite son.

Morales said the severe penalties imposed by FIFA, including a four-month ban from football and a more than US$100,000 fine, points to possible favoritism towards European teams.

"I feel the directors of FIFA are taking revenge on some players, so the South American teams don't continue to eliminate those from Europe, the great World Cup champions," Morales said.

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Pele plagued by all-Argentine party

World Cup highlights: Mueller muffs freekick trick

Every time Pele was shown on the giant video screen, the crowd booed. More than 20,000 Argentina supporters made the Sao Paulo Fan Fest their own for the round of 16 game against Switzerland. Some wore Lionel Messi masks and white and light blue wigs. Many were shirtless, standing under the sun for hours.

Whenever Pele, the Brazil great attending the game at nearby Itaquerao Stadium, was shown on the screen, they screamed that he has nothing on Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Thousands of Argentines streamed into Brazil even if they couldn't afford or obtain tickets.


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