The World Cup 3rd-place match is generally a high-scoring affair—it has averaged 4 goals over the years—and the 2010 edition held true to form as Germany beat Uruguay, 3-2, to finish in 3rd place.
The winning goal came in the 82nd minute from an unlikely source, young defensive midfielder Sami Khedira. His header on a chaotic corner kick put the Germans into the lead after a back and forth battle in rainy Port Elizabeth.
The Germans had the first say of the evening. They were without Thomas Müller in the semifinal loss to Spain, and 19 minutes into this game, the world saw why he was so missed. Following up a 35-yard rocket from Bastian Schweinsteiger, Müller knocked in the rebound given up by goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. It was the young Bayern attacker’s 5th goal of the tournament, tying him for the lead in the race for the Golden Boot.
In the 28th minute, Edinson Cavani equalized for the Charrúas. Diego Perez’s brilliant tackle at midfield stripped Schweinsteiger of possession, and Uruguay raced off on a counterattack. Luis Suarez slipped the ball into Cavani on the left side, and the Palermo striker placed his shot into the lower right corner.
In the 42nd minute, Diego Forlan threaded a ball behind the defense into the path of Suarez, but the Ajax marksman pulled his shot wide of the left post.
Suarez also should’ve had a goal in the 48th minute, mopping up a messy play after Cavani got to the byline. But Suarez’s shot was blocked by diving goalkeeper Hans-Jörg Butt.
In the 51st minute, Uruguayan talisman Forlan, who was struggling with a leg injury, finally made his presence known. Midfielder Egidio Arévalo broke down the right side and swung a cross back to the top of the box. There, Forlan hit a side volley that bounced wickedly past Butt at the near post.
But five minutes later, Germany leveled the score. Right back Jerome Boateng rifled a perfect cross to the far post, and after goalkeeper Fernando Muslera flailed at the ball, left back Marcell Jansen headed in for his first World Cup goal.
In the 63rd minute, Suarez came close again, slamming a swerving volley that Butt was forced to punch away.
As time wound on, Germany began to gain control of the match, setting up the ultimate moment for Khedira’s winner in the 82nd minute. A corner kick from the right side bounced around, and Khedira headed the unruly ball just past the outstretched arms of Muslera into the side netting.
It was no less than Germany deserved, although the drama wasn’t done yet. In stoppage time, Forlan came inches from equalizing, slamming a freekick off the crossbar with the final kick in the game.
URU – Cavani 28’, Forlan 51’
GER – Müller 19’, Jansenn 56’, Khedira 82’
Uruguay: Fernando Muslera; Jorge Fucile, Diego Lugano, Diego Godín, Martín Cáceres; Diego Pérez (Walter Gargano 77’), Egidio Arévalo, Maxi Pereira; Edinson Cavani (Sebastián Abreu 88’), Luis Suárez, Diego Forlán
Germany: Hans-Jörg Butt; Jérôme Boateng, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Dennis Aogo, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Thomas Müller, Marcell Jansen (Toni Kroos 81’), Mesut Özil (Serdar Tacsi 92’); Cacau (Stefan Kiessling 73’)