Spain vs. Germany: In World Cup, Spain scores 1-0 win, advances to final

Football fans celebrated wildly in Madrid on Wednesday night as Spain beat Germany 1-0 to advance into the World Cup final for the first time. (July 7)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 8, 2010

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA -- For decades, Spain's soccer history has been marked by the extraordinary success of its club teams. Now, after perpetual disappointment on the sport's grandest stage, Spain will play for the World Cup championship.

With a 1-0 victory over Germany on Wednesday in front of 60,960 at Moses Modhida Stadium, La Roja advanced to Sunday's final against the Netherlands in Johannesburg. It's the first time in 32 years that two teams that have never held the trophy will face one another for the title.

"We have been waiting for so many years," said Coach Vicente Del Bosque, who played for Spain's national team in the late 1970s and has guided the current group for two years. "Our players carried out their job in a magnificent way."

After dominating possession, Spain finally broke Germany's stout resistance in the 73rd minute. Veteran defender Carles Puyol, who squandered a can't-miss chance in the opening moments, launched himself at Xavi's corner kick and directed a 10-yard header into the right side of the net for just his third goal in 89 national team appearances.

"We dominated the match," Xavi said. "The Spanish personality imposed itself. In the second half, we had the ball virtually all the time."

Germany, a three-time champion seeking an eighth title game berth, will face Uruguay in Saturday's third-place game in Port Elizabeth. The Germans had scored eight goals in the previous two matches, but without quality possession for long periods, they were powerless.

"They are the masters of the game," Germany Coach Joachim Loew said of the Spaniards. "You can see it in every pass. They can hardly be beaten."

The anticipation began to build early in the morning with supporters from both sides in national colors strolling the promenade that leads from the row of seaside hotels and cafes to the glittering arena.

With Brazil, Argentina, Italy, England and France long gone, this match had a championship feel -- reigning European champion Spain, cultivator of immense talent but perennial underachiever in the World Cup, against Germany, a regular figure in the late stages of the tournament.

On the eve of the match, players from both teams suggested an open, entertaining match. Instead of a free-flowing affair, Spain kept an iron grip on possession, laboring to break down the Germans.

The ball flowed through Andres Iniesta and Pedro and to Sergio Ramos on the right flank. Germany was left to chase shadows.

In the 14th minute, Puyol wasted Iniesta's cross, sending an unchallenged, routine header over the crossbar. With scant possession, Germany had little to offer until the 32nd minute when Piotr Trochowski's 25-yard effort was slapped aside by the diving Iker Casillas.

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