Spain earns place in final

2010-07-08 08:50

Germany 0

Spain (0) 1

Carles Puyol doesn’t score that many goals.

Well, that is to be expected. He is a defender.

But on the occasion that he does, they are important goals. No!

Make that crucial.

That’s how it was when he ran a long distance from outside the

penalty box, flexed his well-trained neck muscles, snapped his head as he met an

in swinger, sending the ball flying like an arrow into the top corner of German

goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s goal posts.

That goal meant Spain were in the 2010

Fifa World Cup final.

After an almost evenly matched first half, Spain had started

exerting pressure from restart.

It became obvious that the tag of favourites that had become a kiss

of death for the likes of Brazil and Argentina, was affecting the Germans.

Hats off to Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai for letting the game


He was so invisible and despite some niggling tackles here and there, the

encounter ended with no player being booked.

Top marksman, David Villa worked his socks off, proving to be a

nuisance if not a pain in the most tender part of the German defence


Chances had been too few and far apart in the first half, with the

most exciting part being a spectator who ran into the pitch with a mere four

minutes into the game.

The respect that the two sides have for each other was evident as

none was prepared to attack blindly, preferring to knock the ball around in

their own half and wait for openings.

But Spain were more adventurous as halftime statistics showed that

they enjoyed a 58% ball possession to Germany’s 42% and took six pot-shots at

goal to their opponents’ single one.

Neuer was the first to be called to action as Pedro sent the lethal

Villa through but his sliding shot was blocked by the diving frame of the 1.9m

tall goal-minder.

The European champions threatened once more in the 14th minute when

Andres Iniesta sent in a scorcher of a cross that Puyol failed to direct and his

header whooshed over the crossbar.

It was only two minutes later that Ike Casilas was called to show

why he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He emerged out of a cluster

of players to punch the ball away, giving it quite some distance.

With 32 minutes gone, he was again called to business when he dived

down low to his left parrying a dangerous ground shot from Piotr Trochowski

around the goal post for a corner.

Casilas’ prowess and domination of his 18 yard area was evident

once more in the 34th minute when he delivered another full-bloodied punch to

the ball.

German players, their bench and their followers in the

60 960-strong crowd, got up in unison at the death of the half hoping for a

penalty when Mesut Oezil got down in a bundle after a tangle with Ramos but

referee Kassai carried on as if nothing had happened.

0-0 at half-time.

But the scoreboard told a different story at the final


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