Football: Outstanding Neuer pins German win on compact defence

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said Germany's improved defence was the key to Friday's 1-0 win over France as they booked their World Cup semi-finals berth for a fourth consecutive time.

Centre-back Mats Hummels' 13th-minute bullet-header settled the quarter-final clash at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.

Hummels produced a man-of-the-match display on his return to the side after missing Monday's nervous 2-1 extra-time win over Algeria with flu.

Neuer played a huge part in the victory with an outstanding display to repeatedly thwart the French attack, spear-headed by Real Madrid star Karem Benzema.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper said his back four had raised their game significantly since Monday's below-par display.

"Unlike against Algeria, today we had a game where we couldn't lose, the defence did well and was really compact," said Neuer, who denied Benzema with a key save in the dying stages.

"It was very impressive to play in this stadium against France and this performance was already worthy of a semi-final.

"We played some good football and there is huge joy now in reaching the semi-finals."

This is the 13th time in 20 attempts Germany have reached the World Cup's semi-finals and the fourth in succession since bowing out of the quarter-finals at France '98.

Germany now face a semi-final clash against either Brazil or Colombia next Tuesday in Belo Horizonte.