By CARL SETTERLUND
Germany scored five times in the opening 29 minutes, four of them in a decisive six-minute stretch, to destroy host Brazil, 7-1, in a semifinal at Estádio Mineirão in Belo Horizonte.
Miroslav Klose’s 23rd-minute tally ended up being the winner and started a run on goals. Klose had his initial try stopped by Toronto FC keeper Júlio César, but calmly netted on the rebound.
Regardless of it being the goal to send Germany through into the final, Klose’s strike was historic in its own right, making the 36-year-old the all-time leading World Cup goal scorer with 16.
Thomas Müller opened scoring in the 11th minute off a right-sided corner by Kroos. Müller found himself unmarked at the far side of the six-yard box for a side-footed finish out of the air.
The 24-year-old Müller now has five goals in the tournament to lead Germany and is just one goal behind Colombia’s James Rodriguez in the race for the Golden Boot.
The Bayern Munich forward won the Golden Boot with five goals at the 2010 World Cup and could potentially become the first player to win the award twice.
Toni Kroos scored twice in the three minutes following Klose’s record breaker, while André Schürrle helped build on a 5-0 halftime lead with goals in the 69th and 79th minutes.
The Germans advance to play the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands. The World Cup final will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro.
Oscar was able to net a late consolation goal for Brazil in the 90th minute.
The Brazilians aren’t done just yet. They’ll have a chance to reclaim some pride in the third-place game at 4 p.m. Saturday in Brasília against the loser of the other semifinal.
Brazil was notably without two of its biggest stars. Superstar striker Neymar suffered a broken vertebrae in his lower back in Brazil’s quarterfinal against Colombia, while center back and captain Thiago Silva missed the game due to yellow card accumulation.
Germany’s Manuel Neuer made seven saves en route to the victory, while César had three saves.
Kroos and Müller were both invaluable during the Germans’ opening stretch. After teaming up on the opener, Kroos played Müller into the box on a one-two to set up Klose’s winner.
Kroos made it 3-0 in the 24th after Müller may or may not have allowed the ball to dummy through on a right-sided cross by Phillipp Lahm. Kroos was there at the far end of the box and guided a well-aimed volley inside the left post past the diving César.
Early on in the 26th minute, Kroos stole the ball away from Fernandinho and played it out left in front of him to Sami Khedira. He unselfishly passed up the shot and gave it right back, sending César and Brazilian defender Dante both spinning as Kroos completed his brace.
Khedira got his soon after in the 29th minute to up the lead to an incredible 5-0 margin under a half hour in. It was the quickest any team has ever scored five goals in the World Cup.
Center back Mats Hummels made a long run forward on the play, carrying the ball to the edge of the offensive third before yielding it to Khedira.
Similar to the previous goal he played it left to Mesut Özil, who drew the defense and then gave it back for Khedira to finish into the bottom left corner.
The 58th-minute substitute Schürrle helped tack on in the 69th minute on a ball from the right side by Lahm. He and Müller both made sharp runs to the ball, but Schürrle got their first to bang home a low shot past César inside the right post.
Schürrle’s second goal in the 79th minute was the most skillful of the match. Müller lofted it in from the left stick and Schürrle settled it out of the air in stride with his right foot before pinging his lefty shot off the crossbar and in.
Oscar tallied on the counterattack in the final minute of regulation time, getting a ball over the top down the left sideline from Marcelo. Neuer and Jérome Boateng were both left out of position as Oscar cut in on his right foot and slotted it in to deny Germany the shutout.
Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari made a pair of substitutes around halftime that helped regain some offensive punch as Paulinho and Ramires combined for seven shots on target.
Germany has been the most consistently strong team at the World Cup over the last three decades, but haven’t won the tournament since 1990. The Germans have also finished either second or third five times in the previous eight World Cups dating back to 1982.
Brazil was denied its first trip to the World Cup final since 2002.