Former world champions Germany and France on Monday snuffed out African hopes and reached the World Cup quarter-finals with hard-won victories over Algeria and Nigeria.
Ozil (L) and Pogba scored late goals to push their teams into the quarters. (Reuters/AFP Photo)
Germany — three-time World Cup winners — and France — the 1998 champs — will now meet in a blockbuster quarter final clash on July 4 at the famed Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
Both European powerhouses struggled for their wins, France needing late goals to see off African champions Nigeria 2-0 and Germany only securing their 2-1 victory over Algeria in extra time.
France's Paul Pogba (no 19) heads to score a goal against Nigeria during their World Cup game at the Brasilia national stadium in Brasilia. (Reuters Photo)
France down Nigeria 2-0 | Germany 2-1 win over Algeria
Mesut Ozil celebrates after scoring Germany's second goal (Reuters Photo)
What might stop Germany from winning this World Cup
Ramadan fasting not to blame for extra time defeat to Germany, insist Algeria
It was the first time two African teams had reached the second round, but both went out within hours of each other to leave the continent still struggling to make an impact on the biggest stage.
In Porto Alegre, the sides were deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes in a frantic end-to-end match in which Algeria goalkeeper Rais Mbolhi pulled off some fantastic saves but swift counter-attacks also gave the north Africans chances to win.
With the score 0-0 at full time, German substitute Andre Schuerrle deftly flicked in a low cross, before Mesut Ozil added a second in the last minute.
There was still time for an Algerian consolation goal, by Abdelmoumene Djabou. It was no more than they deserved but not enough to prevent heartbreak at the final whistle.
"The Algerians did a good job, they disrupted us from the start and didn't let us get into our game. But it doesn't matter how we won," Schuerrle said.
The result kept Germany's enviable record of reaching at least the quarter-finals in every World Cup they have played in since 1938. It also denied Algeria revenge for a dark chapter in 1982 when, despite beating then West Germany, they went out after a seemingly contrived result between the Germans and Austria.
"We showed the whole world that Algeria has a great team," defender Madjid Bougherra said. "We fought all the way. At the start of Ramadan, we did a great job representing Algeria."
What happened at extra time in the Germany-Algeria match?