Spain Wins Euro 2008

Fernando Torres was the hero for Spain by firing them to Euro 2008 glory against Germany in Vienna – and ending 44 years of under achievement.

Torres struck in the 33rd minute at Ernst Happel Stadion and despite the efforts of Germany skipper Michael Ballack, they held on to their lead to spark wild celebrations in Austria’s capital.

Heavyweights in European football who produce a constant stream of individual talents, Spain had not won a major tournament since 1964 but finally shook off their tag of being chokers, not able to cope with the pressure of the highest stage.

They have also been perceived as a nation divided by their regions – the lyrics to their national anthem are not used – but full-back Sergio Ramos had kept mentioning the word “united” this week, and when Torres secured the Henri Delaunay for them they were just that.

Just shy of his 70th birthday, Luis Aragones will now leave his post as coach, probably for Fenerbahce, as a champion. Vicente del Bosque has been tipped to take over and he will inherit a young squad who have their sights on the World Cup.

While Portugal appeared destabilized by Chelsea announcing Luiz Felipe Scolari as their new coach during these finals, there were no signs of the same happening to Spain following Fenerbahce’s statement revealing Aragones as their new boss on the eve of their semi-final.

They finish as the tournament’s top goal scorers, helped by Torres who took the Premier League by storm with 33 rookie goals for Liverpool.

He was not on the top of his game for the whole of the tournament, but the 24-year-old stepped into the shoes of David Villa when Spain needed him.

“Viva Espana” sang their fans before the sangria started flowing.

This was billed as a clash of Germany’s efficiency and power versus Spain’s fluidity and creativity which were on display as Russia were swept aside in the semi-finals.

Germany’s drive came from Ballack, with the Chelsea midfielder passed fit despite carrying a calf injury on the eve of the final.

‘Against the odds we will win the trophy’, read one headline from a German newspaper on the day of the game – and Ballack was seen as the key to their chances.

They had been inconsistent in the group stages, then stuttered past Turkey after out muscling Portugal.

Only Ballack’s level of performance had been high throughout all of it but he ends the tournament a ‘nearly man’ again.

Six years ago he missed the World Cup final through suspension just after Bayer Leverkusen missed a trio of chances for silverware.

This season Manchester United pipped him to the Premier League and Champions League – and he finds himself the bridesmaid once more.

Facing Ballack was a Barcelona-bred wall of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas in midfield, with Arsenal’s youngster getting his chance following Villa’s injury.

But before they were allowed to impose themselves on the game, Germany had already wasted two early chances.

Ramos lost his bearings and gifted a pass straight to Miroslav Klose, whose poor touch let him down as he sped past Carles Puyol – and the opportunity had gone.

Then Thomas Hitzlsperger was teed up on the edge of the area by Klose but could not get purchase on his shot.

Spain started to move through the gears after their double reprieve, never looking back after they were let off the hook.

Their opening chance came after a Xavi pass had split the German defense to find Iniesta on the left. When the cross came over, Christoph Metzelder sliced towards his own goal and Jens Lehmann, the oldest player to feature in a European Championship final, athletically tipped around the post.

The post came to Lehmann’s rescue when Torres climbed above Per Mertesacker to meet Ramos’ center – but the Liverpool man was not made to wait long for his goal.

It came 12 minutes before the break when Xavi played the ball beyond Philipp Lahm. The full-back was favourite to clear but Torres used pace and muscle to get around him and chip over Lehmann before celebrating his goal by sucking his thumb.

It could have got worse for Germany had David Silva not volleyed over wildly when found at the far post by Iniesta.

And German fans feared the worst when Ballack was forced off with a cut eye, but he returned after getting the bloodied injury treated twice. He was also booked along with opposing captain Iker Casillas for talking back at the referee.

Spain had chances to make it comfortable after the break, with Lehmann saving from Ramos’ header and Iniesta getting a drive cleared off the line.

Their own indiscipline almost cost them when Silva butted his head towards Lukas Podolski – but no card was shown.

Torres was taken off in the 78th minute, with his job already done in waking the sleeping giants of European football.

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And here’s a wrap on the stats from the tourney.

Goals (Minutes Played)
David Villa 4 345 min Spain
Hakan Yakin 3 219 min Switzerland
Semih Şentürk 3 257 min Turkey
Roman Pavlyuchenko 3 394 min Russia
Lukas Podolski 3 553 min Germany
Daniel Güiza 2 169 min Spain
Ivan Klasnić 2 192 min Croatia
Zlatan Ibrahimović 2 211 min Sweden
Robin van Persie 2 232 min Netherlands
Ruud van Nistelrooy 2 287 min Netherlands
Nihat Kahveci 2 302 min Turkey
Andrei Arshavin 2 310 min Russia
Wesley Sneijder 2 310 min Netherlands
Arda Turan 2 316 min Turkey
Bastian Schweinsteiger 2 335 min Germany
Fernando Torres 2 380 min Spain
Miroslav Klose 2 539 min Germany
Michael Ballack 2 564 min Germany
Václav Svěrkoš 1 38 min Czech Republic
Ivica Vastic 1 63 min Austria
Klaas Jan Huntelaar 1 83 min Netherlands
Rubén de la Red 1 93 min Spain
Hélder Postiga 1 95 min Portugal
Ricardo Quaresma 1 106 min Portugal
Arjen Robben 1 108 min Netherlands
Uğur Boral 1 148 min Turkey
Ivica Olić 1 162 min Croatia
Raul Meireles 1 167 min Portugal
Jan Koller 1 172 min Czech Republic
Dmitri Torbinski 1 172 min Russia
Dirk Kuyt 1 214 min Netherlands
Nuno Gomes 1 215 min Portugal
Roger Guerreiro 1 226 min Poland
Andrea Pirlo 1 241 min Italy
Adrian Mutu 1 259 min Romania
Jaroslav Plašil 1 259 min Czech Republic
Libor Sionko 1 260 min Czech Republic
Angelos Charisteas 1 279 min Greece
Deco 1 279 min Portugal
Petter Hansson 1 281 min Sweden
Cristiano Ronaldo 1 281 min Portugal
Xavi Hernández 1 282 min Spain
Cesc Fàbregas 1 289 min Spain
Darijo Srna 1 299 min Croatia
Fernando Torres 1 302 min Spain
Daniele De Rossi 1 310 min Italy
Giovanni van Bronckhorst 1 310 min Netherlands
Luka Modrić 1 313 min Croatia
Pepe 1 374 min Portugal
David Silva 1 386 min Spain
Christian Panucci 1 403 min Italy
Philipp Lahm 1 471 min Germany
Konstantin Zyryanov 1 497 min Russia

Yellow Cards
Johan Vonlanthen 2 109 min Switzerland
Dmitri Torbinski 2 172 min Russia
Gennaro Gattuso 2 175 min Italy
Dorin Goian 2 187 min Romania
Sebastian Prödl 2 188 min Austria
Tranquillo Barnetta 2 192 min Switzerland
Giorgos Karagounis 2 220 min Greece
Mariusz Lewandowski 2 234 min Poland
Andrea Pirlo 2 241 min Italy
Cristian Chivu 2 280 min Romania
Emre Aşık 2 292 min Turkey
Arda Turan 2 316 min Turkey
Sabri Sarıoğlu 2 318 min Turkey
Mehmet Aurélio 2 380 min Turkey
Denis Kolodin 2 405 min Russia
Tuncay Şanlı 2 410 min Turkey
Yuri Zhirkov 2 491 min Russia
Michael Ballack 2 564 min Germany
Tomasz Zahorski 1 24 min Poland
Kevin Kuranyi 1 50 min Germany
Jorge Ribeiro 1 52 min Portugal
Nikos Liberopoulos 1 61 min Greece
Jean-Alain Boumsong 1 68 min France
Miguel 1 93 min Portugal
Hrvoje Vejić 1 93 min Croatia
Loukas Vintra 1 93 min Greece
Milan Baroš 1 93 min Czech Republic
Álvaro Arbeloa 1 93 min Spain
Erwin Hoffer 1 94 min Austria
Hélder Postiga 1 95 min Portugal
Jürgen Säumel 1 112 min Austria
Fernando Meira 1 113 min Portugal
Giourkas Seitaridis 1 133 min Greece
Sidney Govou 1 141 min France
Uğur Boral 1 148 min Turkey
Daniel Güiza 1 154 min Spain
Santi Cazorla 1 165 min Spain
Vassilis Torosidis 1 186 min Greece
Patrice Evra 1 187 min France
Thierry Henry 1 187 min France
Willy Sagnol 1 187 min France
Jacek Bąk 1 188 min Poland
Ivan Saenko 1 189 min Russia
Johan Elmander 1 195 min Sweden
Eren Derdiyok 1 198 min Switzerland
Ümit Korkmaz 1 213 min Austria
Hakan Yakin 1 219 min Switzerland
Daniel Niculae 1 221 min Romania
Euzebiusz Smolarek 1 226 min Poland
Robin van Persie 1 232 min Netherlands
Bastian Schweinsteiger 1 242 min Germany
Andreas Ivanschitz 1 252 min Austria
Semih Şentürk 1 257 min Turkey
Adrian Mutu 1 259 min Romania
Petit 1 260 min Portugal
Massimo Ambrosini 1 263 min Italy
Tomáš Galásek 1 263 min Czech Republic
Gelson Fernandes 1 263 min Switzerland
Gökhan Zan 1 275 min Turkey
Mehmet Topal 1 277 min Turkey
Angelos Basinas 1 279 min Greece
Angelos Charisteas 1 279 min Greece
Cosmin Contra 1 280 min Romania
Claude Makelele 1 281 min France
Anders Svensson 1 281 min Sweden
Andreas Isaksson 1 281 min Sweden
Bosingwa 1 281 min Portugal
Marcin Wasilewski 1 281 min Poland
Jacek Krzynówek 1 281 min Poland
Jérémy Toulalan 1 281 min France
Khalid Boulahrouz 1 282 min Netherlands
Emanuel Pogatetz 1 282 min Austria
Ludovic Magnin 1 282 min Switzerland
Martin Stranzl 1 282 min Austria
Jan Polák 1 283 min Czech Republic
Tomáš Ujfaluši 1 283 min Czech Republic
Arne Friedrich 1 283 min Germany
Rafael van der Vaart 1 295 min Netherlands
Kazım Kazım 1 296 min Turkey
Darijo Srna 1 299 min Croatia
Andrei Arshavin 1 310 min Russia
Giorgio Chiellini 1 310 min Italy
Nigel de Jong 1 310 min Netherlands
André Ooijer 1 310 min Netherlands
Daniele De Rossi 1 310 min Italy
Luka Modrić 1 313 min Croatia
Robert Kovač 1 313 min Croatia
Josip Šimunić 1 313 min Croatia
Diniyar Bilyaletdinov 1 321 min Russia
Paulo Ferreira 1 322 min Portugal
Andrés Iniesta 1 331 min Spain
David Villa 1 345 min Spain
Pepe 1 374 min Portugal
Luca Toni 1 403 min Italy
Carlos Marchena 1 403 min Spain
Gianluca Zambrotta 1 403 min Italy
Michael Ballack 1 471 min Germany
Jens Lehmann 1 471 min Germany
Philipp Lahm 1 471 min Germany
Sergei Semak 1 497 min Russia
Hakan Balta 1 505 min Turkey

Red Cards
1 Eric Abidal – France
1 Volkan Demirel – Turkey
1 Bastian Schweinsteiger – Germany

Credit: ESPNsoccernet, Euro2008.uefa.com

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