Hummels gives Germany early lead over France

by Michael Place

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 4 (Xinhua) -- A Mats Hummels header gave Germany a 1-0 lead over France at halftime of their World Cup quarterfinal here on Friday.

Germany took control early, dictating a static tempo in hot conditions at the Maracana stadium.

But France nearly grabbed the lead when Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema sent a powerful shot wide after Mathieu Valbuena's lobbed cross.

Germany then went ahead after Hummels' looping header ricocheted in off the bar following Toni Kroos' inswinging free-kick from the left.

Joachim Low's team continued to press and Argentine referee Nestor Pitana correctly waved away a penalty appeal after Miroslov Klose fell under a Mathieu Debuchy challenge.

Having appeared content to sit back early, France looked more dangerous as the first half progressed.

Benzema was particularly threatening and will have been disappointed not to have converted at least one of his myriad chances.

Arguably the best of them came after Valbuena's pull-back from the left fell to the 26-year-old in the box. But his volley flew off target after being partially blocked by Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Benzema continued to threaten. He had a header blocked by Hummels before his powerful drive after a piercing run into the box was saved by Manuel Neuer.