Spain crowned new European champion
Spain finally ended its 44-year wait for a trophy when Fernando Torres's exquisite first-half goal gave it a deserved 1-0 victory over Germany in a fast and furious Euro 2008 final in Vienna on Sunday night
The Spaniards, 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.
The Germans, 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.
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 equalizer 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.
List of European Championships winners
- 1960 Soviet Union
- 1964 Spain
- 1968 Italy
- 1972 West Germany
- 1976 Czechoslovakia
- 1980 West Germany
- 1984 France
- 1988 Netherlands
- 1992 Denmark
- 1996 Germany
- 2000 France
- 2004 Greece
- 2008 Spain