Vienna, Jun 30: Spain finally ended their 44-year drought for titles. A well-taken first half goal from Fernando Torres sealed a 1-0 win over Germany in an open, attacking final which summed up the whole of Euro 2008. Spain always had been favorite at every major tournament, but the teams had failed to match the expectations since 1964 when they won the European Championship against USSR and then in 1984 they arrived the final but lost against France.
Torres scored in the 33rd minute and the Spaniards never backed down against such a formidable opponent. Their last significant title came in the 1964 European Championship at home. “It is to me the most important day in Spanish football in many, many years," Torres said.
Against the highly accomplished Germans, the Spaniards were not intimidated. They got the one goal they needed — from a slumping striker, no less — and set off chants of “ES-PANA!" and “Ole, Ole, Ole!" at the final whistle. The entire Spanish squad ran over to the huge rooting section of red and gold, exchanging hugs, while many of the spent Germans collapsed to the turf.
When Spain"s goalkeeper and captain, Iker Casillas, accepted the trophy on a stage, the Spanish fans began chanting the melody to their national anthem, which has no words. Thousands of camera flashes went off as the players jumped in place, then headed onto the field to show off their prize.
The Spaniards were not close to finished with their celebration that was so long in the making. They marched to their rooting section, hoisting the cup and saluting their flag-waving, firecracker-exploding fans.
“We have won in a brilliant way," Coach Luis Aragones said. “We will be able to start saying we can win, a European championship as well as any other thing."
“We played the best for the entire tournament, and we beat some great teams," Torres said. “We beat Italy, the World Cup champion, and we beat Russia and now Germany. That is how you become champion."
Germany has won three European titles and three World Cups, but was no match in this final. The captain Michael Ballack, questionable before the game with a calf injury, started, but hardly was noticeable — except when he left for several minutes to have a bloody right eye treated.
“We had a great tournament but made one mistake too many," Ballack said. “We were lacking of power against a great Spanish team. We couldn"t keep up with them."
Torres, who had 33 goals for Liverpool this season but had been invisible in this tournament, came through off a brilliant feed from Xavi Hernández.
Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, at 38 the oldest player in the competition, charged from his net when he saw that defender Philipp Lahm was beaten on the right side. But Torres chipped the ball over the sliding Lehmann and into the gaping goal.
The crowd of 51,428 at Ernst Happel Stadium, split almost equally, might have expected the Spaniards to go into a protective shell. Instead, and even without their leading scorer, David Villa (leg injury), they continued to carry the attack and were far more dangerous than Germany the rest of the way.
Indeed, Lehmann, who helped the Germans to third place in the 2006 World Cup, kept it close with several tough saves.
This was the last game for 69-year-old Aragones, the oldest coach to win a European title.
“The most important thing about our team, perhaps, is the manager," Torres said. “He has confidence in us, and he lets us play. We have brought him the championship in his last game for Spain, and we are very happy we could make this history for him and for us."
"It was only the beginning, the best is about to come," is what Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero said on Sunday, June 29 after the Euro 2008 soccer final.