Germany were crowned world champions for the fourth time thanks to a stunning extra-time winner from super sub Mario Gotze.
Argentina were preparing for a penalty shoot-out in the Maracana, but in the 113th minute Gotze chested down Andre Schurrle’s cross and volleyed home to cap a historic victory for Joachim Low’s men.
Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Palacio all spurned good chances to give Argentina the win in the spiritual home of their fierce rivals Brazil.
Neither Germany nor Argentina could break the deadlock in the Maracana as a tense World Cup final went into extra-time.
After a star-studded concert involving Colombian pop star Shakira and Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen ended, the atmosphere soon began to grow inside the Maracana.
The giant Brazil flag that stretched across the pitch was taken away and thereafter the Maracana felt like Buenos Aires.
The Argentinians inside this famous stadium mocked the hosts for their humiliating semi-final defeat and the volume increased further after the first whistle was blown.
The ball flew from one end to the other in an entertaining opening quarter.
Higuain whistled a low shot wide early on. Messi then burst into the box, but his pull back towards Enzo Perez was cut out by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Miroslav Klose just failed to reach a cross from Philipp Lahm.
It was an exciting opening 15 minutes played out amid a booming atmosphere.
The game came to a brief halt when Christoph Kramer, a late replacement for Sami Khedira, took a shoulder to the head from Ezequiel Garay.
Higuain then missed his glorious chance. Kroos headed the ball over his own back four towards Higuain, who watched the ball drop perfectly on to his right foot.
Despite being two yards ahead of the nearest defender, the Napoli striker dragged his shot wide. Boss Alejandro Sabella was stunned. Substitute Sergio Aguero was so embarrassed for his team-mate that he pulled his training top over his head.
Higuain thought he had made amends when he tucked away Lavezzi’s cross, but he was offside
Kramer, still clearly feeling the effects of the clash with Garay, hobbled off and was replaced by Andre Schurrle, who tested Sergio Romero from 18 yards.
The first half came to a dramatic conclusion.
Messi squeezed the ball past Neuer, but Jerome Boateng cleared off the line.
And Benedikt Howedes hit a post with a header from Kroos’ corner.
Sabella brought Aguero on for Lavezzi at the break.
Less than 90 seconds after the restart Messi found a way through the Germany defence, but he dragged his shot a foot wide.
Neuer had to revert to the sweeper role he performed against Algeria as he came right to the edge of his area to punch a long ball by Pablo Zabaleta, taking Higuain in the process.
Higuain wanted a penalty, but the referee waved play on.
Thomas Muller headed tamely at Romero down the other end. Mesut Ozil spurned another chance when he mis-controlled a Schurrle cross deep inside the box.
The started to get scrappy. Javier Mascherano and Aguero were booked for dangerous tackles.
Schurrle was the next man to mis-control, the ball running away from him as he entered the area.
As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, both teams started to take fewer risks and extra-time seemed inevitable.
Even a moment of magic from Messi was foiled by Neuer who came racing off his line to smother the ball after the Argentina captain has skipped past four defenders.
Sabella made his second change, bringing on Palacio for the mis-firing Higuain.
With nine minutes left Kroos placed a low shot wide, much to the annoyance of his coach Joachim Low, who was also annoyed at a pitch invader soon after.
Argentina brought Fernando Gago on for Perez and Miroslav Klose’s World Cup career ended when he was substituted for Mario Gotze.
Gotze sent a weak shot into Romero’s arms and the game then petered out until the referee blew to signal the end of 90 minutes.
Sabella tried to fire his men up with a motivational team-talk just before extra-time.
His team were almost a goal down soon after, though, when Muller returned Schurrle’s pass and he fired a strong drive which Romero did well to parry.
Argentina had their big chance moments later when Mats Hummels failed to clear a routine cross. The ball fell for Palacio, but his lob went wide.
Aguero drew blood from under Schweinsteiger’s right eye as they jumped for the ball.
Then the killer moment came that won the Germans the World Cup.
Unlike many of his team-mates, Schurrle still had plenty of energy left in the tank.
He raced down the left-hand side past three Argentinians and crossed for Gotze, who cushioned the ball on his chest and brilliantly swept the ball past Romero from close range.
It was a wonderful strike worthy of winning any tournament. The Argentinians inside the Maracana fell silent. Their party had been gate-crashed.