DURBAN - Carles
Puyol finally cracked open
Germany's stubborn defence with a superb late header on
Wednesday to give Spain a deserved 1-0 win and send the European
champions into their first World Cup final.
Puyol headed home Xavi's
73rd-minute corner after a Spanish
onslaught to break a frustrating tactical deadlock and set up a
final with Netherlands on Sunday at Soccer City in Johannesburg
when new world champions will be crowned.
GEAR: Get a Spain shirt here
"Our players from defence to
attack were extraordinary and
we played a great game," Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque said
after his side had created the majority of the chances.
"We have another game to play,
let's see if we are capable
of being comfortable on the ball, in good physical shape and see
if we can win. Holland represent the values of Dutch football
very well and they'll be very tough rivals," he said.
The result was a repeat of Spain's
1-0 win over the Germans
in the 2008 European Championship final and was thoroughly
merited, with the Spaniards relentless in pursuit of a goal
while Germany struggled to rattle the opposing defence.
LIVE: Minute-by-minute coverage
Spain started brightly in both
halves and always looked
threatening against a nervous German defence, with the pacy
Pedro's inclusion instead of misfiring striker Fernando Torres
paying off from the outset thanks to his dangerous forays.
Pedro played a pivotal role in
most of Spain's attacks,
linking up well with Andres Iniesta, Sergio Ramos and Xabi
Alonso against a Germany side under pressure and showing only
brief glimmers of their counter-attacking flair.
Germany tested Spain's patience
with steadfast, albeit at
times desperate, defending to shut out the final ball and keep
menacing marksman David Villa at bay.
The Spaniards came agonisingly
close in the 58th minute with
a Pedro shot that forced a spectacular save from Manuel Neuer
before Iniesta cut the ball across the face of goal just a metre
ahead of the sliding Villa.
Germany remained on the back foot and 17 minutes from time
were punished when Puyol charged into the area to head home the
winner and leave Spain to soak up some late pressure before
deservedly reaching the final.
Three-times champions Germany were
a shadow of the side that
trounced England and Argentina on their way to the last four but
still looked dangerous in their few ventures towards goal, with
Piotr Trochowski squandering a chance to score after 67 minutes.
Germany coach Joachim Low said
they lacked their usual edge
and tipped Spain to beat Netherlands in the final.
"Of course, we are disappointed as
you would be when you
lose a semi-final," Low told a news conference.
"I have to congratulate the
Spanish team. Over the past two
years they have been the most skilled team of all and they
showed that. We weren't good enough tonight."
Villa, tournament joint top scorer
with five of Spain's
seven goals, praised his team and said reaching the final had
been their only goal since winning the European Championship.
"Never in the history of our
country has this happened. We
have a group who deserve it all," he said.
"We're very happy to be in the
final, that was our
objective, but now we want to be champions."
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Bayern overcome heartbreak of losing two finals in three seasons by beating Dortmund 2-1
Man City striker signs one-year contract extension to keep him at club until 2017
Brazil's Neymar on the verge of choosing one of two offers from un-named clubs
Napoli president denies reports that he has named Rafael Benitez as club's new manager
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010