Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time after a stunning extra-time strike by substitute Mario Gotze secured a 1-0 victory over Argentina.

After 113 goalless minutes in the World Cup final, Gotze -- a second-half substitute for Miroslav Klose -- controlled Andre Schurrle's left-wing cross beautifully on his chest before volleying past Sergio Romero.

Twenty-four years after their last World Cup triumph, which was also achieved against Argentina, Germany could celebrate again -- coach Joachim Low realising a dream that began eight years ago when he first took charge of the Nationalmannschaft.

Germany had been dealt a blow before kick-off as Sami Khedira suffered a calf strain; Joachim Low threw Christoph Kramer in for his first international start in place of the Real Madrid midfielder.

The magnificent Maracana was a sea of blue and white, with Argentina fans comfortably outnumbering their European counterparts. After 20 minutes, they watched on agog as Gonzalo Higuain missed a wonderful opportunity to open the scoring.

A clumsy defensive header from Toni Kroos put Higuain in the clear but, with only Manuel Neuer to beat, he snatched his shot wide.

Ten minutes later and Higuain thought he had made amends as he steered Ezequiel Lavezzi's cross past Neuer. The Napoli striker spun away in wild celebration only to realise that the assistant had raised his flag. Replays showed Higuain to be clearly offside.

After twice nearly going behind, Germany -- enjoying most of the possession - rallied to create a chance of their own.

Andre Schurrle, who came on as a substitute for Kramer after the youngster was seemingly concussed in a collision with Ezequiel Garay's shoulder, let fly from 20 yards. The shot was heading goalwards but Albiceleste keeper Sergio Romero dived spectacularly to keep the ball out.