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 a record fourth successive World Cup semi-finals berth.

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.

But Neuer played a huge part in the victory with an outstanding display, on what was his 50th appearance for his country, to repeatedly thwart the French attack, spear-headed by Real Madrid striker Karim 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.

"We fought for each other from the first to the last minute.

"I need to say a big 'thank you' to the team, now we need to recover well."

German coach Joachim Loew said Neuer is key to Germany's success in Brazil as they look to end their 24-year wait for a World Cup title.

"Confidence in Neuer doesn't just come from me, it comes from the whole team," said the 54-year-old.

"It's a really great feeling for defenders to know that he is good both in and outside the box, knowing he has the skills of a good outfield player.

"Since 2010 he has been among the best in the world, if not the best.

"He's so cool and calm that he gives confidence to the players in front of him."

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