Spain beat Germany to reach first World Cup final (Second lead)July 8th, 2010 - 4:32 am ICT by IANS
Durban, July 8 (DPA) Reigning European champions Spain reached their first World Cup final Wednesday by defeating three-time winners Germany 1-0 thanks to Carles Puyol’s second half goal.
Puyol scored in the 73rd minute from a thundering header as Spain set up an all-European final with the Netherlands on Sunday at Soccer City in Johannesburg.
Neither of those countries has won the World Cup before, and one will create history by becoming the first European nation to win a World Cup outside of Europe.
It will be the first Spain-Netherlands match-up at a World Cup.
Germany failed to reach eighth World Cup final and will now take on Uruguay Saturday in the third place game in Port Elizabeth.
“We have played a great tournament but today, it has not worked,” said German boss Joachim Loew.
“We are sad and disappointed, but Spain has shown a great game. Compliments to the Spanish team. They have been the best team over the past two or three years.”
“Offensively they were difficult to control,” he added. “They have shown they can beat anyone.”
Each coach made one change from their teams’ quarter-final victories.
Loew was forced to replace the suspended Thomas Mueller with Piotr Trochowski.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque finally took his out-of-form striker Fernando Torres out of the starting line-up in favour of Pedro, who has been subbed in three times previously in South Africa and made his first international start.
In front of 60,900 spectators at Durban Stadium, Spain dominated the game enjoying a slight advantage in ball possession and creating many more chances than Germany. The first came in the sixth minute when Pedro sent a through ball to David Villa but German keeper Manuel Neuer rushed out to block off the attempt in the sixth minute.
The Iberians were close again eight minutes later with Xavi’s cross finding Puyol but the defender’s header went over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
Germany were unable to create any chances in the first half hour as Loew’s men were too busy avoiding mistakes against the creative Spanish midfield.
Trochowski finally tested Spanish keeper Iker Casillas in the 32nd minute with a long-range blast that the Iberian captain was forced to fend to corner.
Germany, clearly missing Mueller, were a shadow of their usual attacking style and mustered very little up front, though Mesut Oezil went down in the area of stoppage time after contact with Sergio Ramos in hopes of drawing a penalty from the Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai.
Five minutes after the re-start, Xabi Alonso’s long blast sailed just wide right - his third long range attempt of the game and by far closest.
Spain were dangerously close in the 58th but Neuer made a superb stop on Pedro’s long range blast and then Villa was just half a step from hitting home Andres Iniesta’s pass across the mouth of the goal.
Germany finally pushed forward after the hour mark and created a fine chance in the 69th minute with Lukas Podolski’s looping pass finding substitute Toni Kroos, whose one-time attempt was blocked by Casillas.
But Spain broke down the German wall in the 73rd minute on a set piece as Man of the Match Xavi’s corner from the left side found Puyol, who hammered home a header from about 10 yards.
With the Germans giving everything they had to equalise, the Iberians could have ended the game with eight minutes left on a counter attack. But Pedro did not pass over to substitute Torres.
Germany, however, could not find the back of the net.
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