Spain have ended their 44-year wait for a major footballing trophy thanks to a 1-0 victory over Germany in Vienna.

Spain Win Euro 2008

Halkaan ka akhri

Fernando Torres finally lived up to his billing as one of the world’s great strikers on Sunday by scoring to give Spain a 1-0 win over Germany and the European Championship title.
Torres, who had been overshadowed by teammate David Villa all tournament, scored in the 33rd minute of the final to topple the three-time European champions and earn his nation’s first major title since 1964.

 

Touching a sliding pass from Xavi Hernandez past Philipp Lahm, Torres turned and ran past his marker on the opposite side, collected the ball and lifted a shot over sliding goalkeeper Jens Lehmann and into the far corner.
In the end, Spain was a deserved winner of the 13th European Championships, co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria.
Long known as underachievers who peaked between tournaments rather than at them, Spain reached the final at Ernst Happel Stadium with a string of beguiling attacking displays orchestrated by a vibrant midfield – and held true to its values in the highest pressure match.

 

Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Silva swapped positions constantly against a midfield marshalled by Michael Ballack and eventually wore out their opponents until it seemed Spain was simply counting down time until the final whistle.
Slow start
Germany, playing in their seventh European Championships final, had a strong appeal for a first-half penalty turned down but, despite Ballack’s imperious performance, could not find a way past the Spanish defence.
Ballack’s tender right calf had meant that, until right before kickoff, it looked like he was about to add a missed European Championships final to the World Cup final he sat out in 2002.

 

But he took his place in the line-up and, against a team with even slightly less skill and passion, could have been the driving force in another German win.
Germany dominated the opening exchanges until a lucky break in the 14th minute gave the Spanish their first chance on goal and a boost that clearly lifted their play.
On a rare foray forward, Iniesta sent a cross into the box from the left and Germany defender Christoph Metzelder stuck out a boot to send the ball rocketing toward his own goal. Only a diving reaction save by Jens Lehmann kept it out and prevented an own-goal.

 

Spain never looked back.
Quality goal
Per Mertesacker had to dispossess Torres in the area with a well-timed sliding tackle before Torres found space for a couple of dangerous headers. He put the first just over the bar before sending the second against the foot of the post with Lehmann beaten.
Germany then was left to rue their luck in what could have been the decisive moment of the match in the 29th minute. Fullback Joan Capdevila mis-controlled the ball and it clearly bounced up to hit his hand, but Italian referee Roberto Rosetti waved away the appeals.
Moments later, Torres showed why he is rated one of the best strikers in the world.
With leading tournament scorer Villa absent because of injury, Torres was again the sole outlet in attack. He took Xavi’s pass and finished off his chance by flipping the ball over Lehmann and watching it roll softly into the corner for his second goal of Euro 2008.
Germany replaced the struggling Lahm with Marcell Jansen at halftime but Silva still got in a 54th-minute shot that right back Sergio Ramos almost deflected in with a back heel.
Ballack, who had already received treatment for a head wound and was railing against every decision in Spain’s favour, shot past the post and almost set up substitute Kevin Kuranyi with a cross that goalkeeper Iker Casillas just tipped away.

 

But from then on, aside from isolated passages of play, it was all Spain.
Relentless
Ramos sent a diving header onto the bar from Xavi’s deep cross, Iniesta almost scored with a near post shot that Torsten Frings just managed to block, and Senna just missed a cross in front of an open goal in the 82nd minute.
It was a dramatic change from the start of the match, when all the attacking had come from Germany.
Exploiting space left by Ramos, who was pushing forward down the wing and leaving captain Carles Puyol to cover, Miroslav Klose, Lahm and Ballack all found openings.
Klose could have had a shot in the third, but his poor touch took the ball out for a goal kick, Lahm sent a cross too far across the area, and Ballack beat Puyol before the recovering Ramos got a toe to the cross to deflect it from danger.

 

That was about as good as it got for Germany.
Curse over
After winning their first title in 44 years having beaten Italy and Germany, Spain no longer needs to think of itself as an underachieving football nation.
The “Red Fury” won their second European Championships, playing with flair, finesse and a determination that the team had lacked in so many previous competitions.
The Spaniards may not have as many trophies as the Germans or Italians, but the sparkling performance in Euro 2008 finally ended Spain’s curse of exiting major tournaments in the quarterfinals.
The Spanish had a weak start to qualifying for Euro 2008 with losses to Northern Ireland and Sweden, but they recovered with eight wins and one draw to claim their group.
Spain’s flow continued at the tournament with three straight victories in the group stage followed by a 4-2 win over Italy in a penalty shootout.
That was Spain’s toughest test, and the only match in which they didn’t score in regular time. It was also crucial for the team’s self-confidence as it ended Spain’s bad habit of exiting major tournaments in the quarterfinals.

 

From that moment, there was no holding Spain back as it crushed Russia 3-0 and carried the momentum on to the final against Germany, even with tournament top-scorer David Villa out injured.
The 1-0 win over Germany extended Spain’s unbeaten streak to 22 matches and allowed embattled coach Luis Aragones to end his four-year spell with Spain on a high note.
Jubilant players tossed him in the air after the final whistle as the Spanish fans danced in the stands.
It was Spain’s third European Championships final, after beating the Soviet Union in 1964 and losing to France 20 years later. Since 1984, Spain had not previously advanced past the quarterfinal stage of the any major tournament.
Source swissinfo with agencies
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