Spain Beats Germany 1-0 To Claim Euro 2008 Trophy
Fernando Torres finally lived up to his billing as one of the world’s great strikers 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 down the three-time European champions and earn his nation’s first major title in 44 years.
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.
Spain had more chances but the goal was enough to give the country its first title since the 1964 European Championship.
In the end, Spain was a deserved winner of the 13th European Championship. Long known as an underachiever that peaked between tournaments rather than at them, the team 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 marshaled by Michael Ballack and eventually wore out their opponents until it seemed Spain was simply counting down time until the final whistle.
Red-shirted fans started to greet each successful pass with cheers of “Ole!” before erupting into relieved delirium on the whistle.
The overjoyed players gathered to throw 69-year-old coach Luis Aragones into the air in celebration, while the massed ranks of Spanish fans sang themselves hoarse with “Viva Espana” as fireworks went off overhead.
Germany, playing in its seventh European Championship 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 Spain defense.
Ballack’s tender right calf had meant that, until right before kickoff, it looked like he was about to add a missed European Championship final to the World Cup final he sat out in 2002.
But he took his place in the lineup 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 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.