Spain edge past Germany to reach first World Cup final
Spain reached their first World Cup final with a slender 1-0 victory over Germany in Durban.
In a closely-contested match, Vincente del Bosque’s side eventually converted their superior possession into an historic victory courtesy of a powerful headed goal by Carles Puyol.
It marks the biggest chapter in Spain’s history and they will now face the Netherlands on Sunday night, with neither teams having previously lifted the World Cup trophy.
Spain dominated the midfield on the night as the quartet of Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pedro looked for routes past the stout German defenders.
Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger desperately tried to make his presence in midfield felt but was left frustrated and Mesut Ãƒ”“zil’s trademark trickery was largely limited by an attentive Spanish defence.
The German counter-attacks which had led to destructions of Argentina and England were kept to a minimum, perhaps hampered by the absence of the suspended Thomas MÃƒÂ¼ller. Miroslav Klose was never really granted the opportunity to equal Ronaldo’s World Cup goal record.
Spain’s grip on the match tightened in the second half.
A dangerous run by Pedro on the right caused disarray amongst the German rearguard as the young Barcelona forward slid a pass to Alonso. The midfielder dragged his effort wide and moments later a second attempt forced Neuer into a save.
Spain then continued to exert pressure on the buckling German defence.
This time Pedro and Alonso combined to slot in Iniesta on the right wing. The Barcelona midfielder raced to the touchline before delivering a low ball across the six-yard box which sped agonisingly past David Villa’s outstretched boot.
For a team who play slick passing football, it was somewhat ironic that Spain’s winner came from a set piece. Xavi’s corner was met by the brave Puyol who sent a ferocious header crashing into the net.
It proved decisive as the Germans failed to muster the energy to mount a resurgence with only two shots on goal during the entire 90 minutes.
German fans will claim they were denied two penalties by referee Viktor Kassai. The first incident came at the end of the first half when Ãƒ”“zil appeared to be clipped by Sergio Ramos, the second when Schweinsteiger was felled by Puyol. Both were waved away by Hungarian official.
As the final whistle approached, only selfish play from Pedro denied substitute Fernando Torres the opportunity to cement the victory but fortunately his hesitation proved irrelevant.
Spain were deserved victors and the purists have been rewarded with a final boasting two of international football’s most exciting sides.