Spain end 44-year wait for major trophy
Spain’s 1-0 win over Germany in the final of Euro 2008 on Sunday is the country’s first European Championship title since 1964.30 June 2008
VIENNA - Football was the winner Sunday as stylish Spain ended a 44-year wait for a major trophy with a 1-0 win over Germany in the final of Euro 2008 in Vienna.
Fernando Torres was the hero for Spain, netting the only goal of the game in the first half, pouncing on some hesitancy in the German defence, to give the country its first European Championship title since 1964.
"I'm delighted at my first major tournament win and I hope it's not my last," said Torres.
"We have grown as a group and as a team. We have to enjoy this and then go for the next World Cup in two years."
Germany coach Joachim Loew was magnanimous in defeat, saying his side had fallen to a more talented team.
"I think we have to recognise the greater quality of the Spanish team today," he said.
"I told the players they should not be despondent. We managed to get to the final and that's something special. The Spanish had the better chances even if the goal did not have to be conceded the way it was."
Although they ended up running out easy winners, Spain started nervously and could have been behind as early as the fourth minute when Miroslav Klose intercepted a woefully underhit pass across his defence by Joan Capdevila.
However, the Bayern Munich striker failed to control the ball and Carles Puyol was able to get back in time to snuff out the danger.
Capdevila's uncertainty seemed to encourage Germany to try their luck down the left flank, with some success, as first Michael Ballack managed to swing in a dangerous cross from the byline and then Thomas Hitzlsperger found space to fire in a shot that Iker Casillas saved easily.
Spain slowly found their feet as the game progressed and nearly went in front after 14 minutes when Christoph Metzelder almost deflected an Andres Iniesta cross into his own net.
The German defence had their first scare with Torres on 22 minutes when a Per Mertesacker mistake nearly let the Liverpool striker in on goal but the Werder Bremen defender recovered well.
Mertesacker had another reprieve four minutes later when Torres beat him in the air only to his header come off the base of the post with goalkeeper Jens Lehmann beaten.
But just as Spain looked like taking total control, Capdevila had Spanish fans' hearts in their mouths once again when the ball bounced up against his hand in the penalty area but referee Roberto Rosetti waved play on.
The German defence's luck with Torres finally ran out after 33 minutes when Philipp Lahm failed to deal with a through ball from Xavi Hernandez and the Spain striker used his pace to get ahead of the defender and lift the ball over the advancing Lehmann.
"Lahm was in a better position but for a moment he relaxed and I took advantage," explained Torres.
Marcell Jensen replaced the injured Lahm for the second half, when Germany adopted a more direct approach in an effort to get back into the game.
Their best spell came in a 10-minute spell around the hour mark when first captain Michael Ballack came close with a shot after an uncharacteristic error from Puyol and then substitute Kevin Kuranyi almost got on the end of a cross only to be foiled by Casillas.
Bastian Schweinsteiger also saw a dangerous shot on the break rebound off team-mate Klose and wide of Casillas' left-hand post.
Lukas Podolski squared up against David Silva on 64 minutes and the Spanish winger made a movement with his head towards the German midfielder which on another occasion could have seen him receive his marching orders.
The incident seemed to stop the German moment as a host of chances followed.
Lehmann saved a header from Capdevila while Torsten Frings cleared an Andres Iniesta shot off the line. Germany could have been reduced to 10 men themselves on 78 minutes when Lehmann appeared to handle the ball outside the area when attempting to clear a long ball destined for Spanish substitute Daniel Guiza.
Loew had replaced Klose for Mario Gomez at this stage but all the opportunities continued to fall Spain's way with Senna coming closest to making it 2-0.
Luis Aragones was full of praise for his players, saying he knew all along that they had what it took to be champions.
"The players know how much I believed in them and how much they believed in themselves. I think we have an extraordinarily good team," he said.
"In the first 10 minutes we were nervous but once Torres hit the post I felt we would win because we were the better team, and it would be difficult for Germany to come back if we scored."
[dpa / Expatica]