Spain 1-0 Germany: At Long Last, At Long Last!
The fireworks will continue well into the evening throughout Spain tonight.
Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna today to claim their first major international trophy since 1964.
Liverpool FC striker Fernando Torres’s 33rd minute goal capped an exhilarating tournament for the much under-achieved Spanish side. Spain have been perfect throughout Euro 2008, going undefeated through all six of their matches over the past two weeks and extending their international winning streak to twenty-two since October 2006.
Captain Iker Casillas lifted the trophy in an elaborate medal ceremony in which the Spanish royal couple and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were in attendance.
Germany had looked promising in the opening ten minutes, involving their attacking players early in the match and forcing the play deep in their opponent’s half, but Spain upped the tempo of play midway through the first forty-five minutes and went up with Torres’s strike in the 33rd minute.
In the 3rd minute, Sergio Ramos nearly gifted Germany a goal when he gave the ball away to Miroslav Klose, but the Polish-born Bayern Munich striker’s touch disappointed him, taking him beyond the by-line.
Then, in the 9th minute, Klose found space down the left wing and cut back for Thomas Hitzlsperger near the top of the penalty box, but the Stuttgart mid-fielder could not get a clean touch on the ball, and Casillas collected the shot without much trouble.
German keeper Jens Lehmann was called into action for the first time in the 15th minute when a shot from Andres Iniesta deflected off Mertesacker and forced the 38-year old keeper to change directions mid-air.
In the 23rd minute, Sergio Ramos lobbed a brilliant cross into the six-yard box for Fernando Torres, who leaped between the two German central defenders to head the ball down – only to hit the near up-right before being cleared by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Joan Capdevila’s follow-up effort then curved just past the far up-right.
Then, in the 33rd minute, Torres put his side up 1-0, out-sprinting Philip Lahm and Jen Lehmann to reach a Cesc Fabregas through-ball and flicking it cleverly over the sliding keeper and into the back of the net.
The Germans opened up the match coming into the second half, pushing up in search of the equalizer, and both sides created dozens of promising opportunities in a captivating end-to-end half.
In the 56th minute, during a blistering counter-attack progression for the Spanish, Torres nearly out-ran a German defender to another long through-ball, but Lehmann beat the striker to the punch.
Captain Michael Ballack came the closest to testing Casillas for the first time in the match in the 60th minute, volleying a thunderous shot past the Spanish keeper but into the side-netting.
A minute later, Ballack swung in a dangerous cross from the left wing into the penalty box, forcing Casillas to leap at full stretch to keep a wide-open Kevin Kuranyi from heading it into the back of the net.
An ugly flare-up between Lukas Podolski and David Silva nearly burst open simmering tempers between the two sides – Silva poked Podolski in the eye with a head-butt and could have been sent off had referee Roberto Rosetti seen the incident. Spain manager Luis Aragones replaced Silva two minutes to quiet the German opposition.
In the 67th minute, Xavi Alonso swung in a free-kick from the right side about forty yards from goal, and Spain could have put the match beyond reach when Sergio Ramos and Torres both found themselves inside the penalty box completely un-marked. Sergio Ramos threw himself at the ball, and only an alert Jens Lehmann kept what would have been a certain goal from going into the back of the net. In the follow-up corner, Xavi caught the German defense napping again when he slipped a short pass to Andres Iniesta, who blazed it near-post straight into the body of Torsten Frings.
One minute later, Sergio Ramos fed Iniesta a through-ball from the right touch-line into the six-yard box, and again Lehmann was called to parry the point-blank range effort away to keep his side in the match.
Fernando Torres found himself alone against Metzerlder with the ball in the 76th minute and should have beaten him had it not been for a heavy touch that sent the ball straight to Jens Lehmann.
In the 86th minute, substitute Santi Cazorli crossed in a promising lob from the right side to an oncoming Daniel Guiza inside the penalty box. Guiza tapped the ball brilliantly into the six-yard box for an un-marked David Senna, who just missed poking the ball into the empty net much to the relief of Jens Lehmann, but the insurance goal was never needed, as the Germans could not establish any offensive rhythm and spent the final ten minutes of the match primarily pinned back in their own half.
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