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Viva Espana! Spain win 1-0 over Germany

29th June, 2008
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Spain\'s Fernando Torres, 2nd right, holds the trophy after the Euro 2008 final between Germany and Spain - AP Photo/Bernat Armangue
Spain finally ended their 44-year wait for a trophy when Fernando Torres’s exquisite first-half goal gave them a deserved 1-0 victory over Germany in a fast and furious Euro 2008 final today.

Spain, appearing in their first final since 1984 and seeking only their second trophy following their 1964 Euro success on home soil, were worthy winners as their crisp passing, wonderful technique and defensive discipline left Germany flailing.

Torres’s goal after 33 minutes was also fit for a final as he showed all the speed, determination and quality of finish that summed up his team’s whole campaign.

Germany, as always, never gave up but their willing running could not bridge the gulf in class and they will have to wait for another shot at a fourth European title.

Spain had gone close twice before the goal.

Jens Lehmann had to react quickly after the superb Andres Iniesta’s shot was deflected but the keeper was beaten in the 23rd minute when Torres, not for the first time, outjumped Per Mertesacker but saw his header come back off a post.

Torres, who had been somewhat overshadowed by absent four-goal partner David Villa in the tournament, showed what a dangerous finisher he is after 33 minutes.

Philipp Lahm appeared to have Xavi’s through-ball covered but fractionally hesitated as he hoped Lehmann would reach it first and that was all Torres needed as he sped past him then cleverly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper.

Spain’s precision delivery earned them several more half-chances early in the second half but none were taken and Germany, never a team to give up on a trophy without a fight, raised their game.

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Captain Michael Ballack, fit to play after his calf strain, had spent most of the first hour fighting fires but he went close with a low volley as his side hit back and ramped up the temperature with a few lively tackles.

Coach Joachim Loew threw on striker Kevin Kuranyi but Spain then had a flurry of chances of chances as Lehmann saved well from Sergio Ramos and Iniesta, and Torsten Frings cleared Iniesta’s shot off the line all in the space of two minutes.

As Germany pressed, for the equaliser the gaps opened and Torres almost broke clear twice more. In the end, though, his early effort proved enough to clinch the trophy for Spain.

Thousands of ecstatic Spanish fans danced and chanted “Viva Espana” in central Madrid as the country’s first major international football trophy in 44 years sparked a nationwide fiesta.

The capital was awash with the red and gold national colours, as the country celebrated the 1-0 Euro 2008 win over Germany in true Spanish style.

The deafening sounds of cheering, klaxons and drums from the vast Plaza Colon, where thousands watched the match live from Vienna on giant television screens, mixed with those of car horns across the city.

Many were wrapped in the Spanish flag, wore red wigs and the team shirts or had their faces painted red and gold.

Hundreds of police struggled to keep traffic moving as exuberant fans spilled out of the square onto the Paseo de Recoletos avenue, one of the city’s main arteries and which leads to the Plaza Cibeles, where Real Madrid supporters traditionally hold their celebrations.

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“It’s so many years since we even got past the quarter-finals, and now we’ve won. I can’t believe it,” said Dani, 19, a student from Madrid who came with several friends.

“We are the best, and now we’re ready to win the World Cup,” said Joaquin, 48, who had come with his family from the western city of Salamanca. “The team played well, they were united and concentrated,” he said, naming Casillas, Torres and Fabregas as the best players.

The excitement had mounted throughout the day as high-spirited fans partied in the square hours ahead of kick-off amid soaring temperatures that reached 35 C (95 F).

Spain last lifted the European championship in 1964 with victory over the former USSR in what was its only previous triumph at a major tournament. The country last reached the Euro final in 1984 when it lost to France.

A win against Italy last week ended what was seen as a “curse”, in which Spain had lost three times on penalties in the quarter-finals of major competitions, and on the same date, June 22. In Thursday’s semi-final, they demolished Russia 3-0.

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