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Spain's Alpine romp sets benchmark

Holders Spain were among those waiting with bated breath for Sunday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying draw. UEFA.com looks back on Luis Aragonés's side's 2008 triumph in Austria and Switzerland.

Spain triumph at UEFA EURO 2008 ©Getty Images

Spain's 44-year wait for a trophy came to an end at UEFA EURO 2008 as Luis Aragonés's side defeated Germany 1-0 to deservedly win a competition they had taken by storm.

Fernando Torres provided the killer blow in the final, darting past Philipp Lahm before shooting beyond the advancing Jens Lehmann to spark Spanish celebrations. The Furia Roja had achieved what their predecessors had so often failed to do: deliver on their potential. Their success was, in large part, due to Aragonés who had fostered a harmonious atmosphere in a squad blessed with talent. They dazzled with pace, passing and power en route to claiming their country's first title since the 1964 UEFA European Championship.

If midfielders Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta controlled Spain's rhythm with their speed of thought and distribution, it was strike pair David Villa and Torres who supplied the cutting edge. Spain had signalled their intent from the off, beginning the Group D campaign with a 4-1 victory against Russia. Villa, who would finish as the tournament's top scorer, struck a hat-trick. He and Torres were on target again as Sweden were edged 2-1 before holders Greece fell by the same scoreline. While those three wins set Spanish pulses racing, optimism really turned to belief when the team saw off world champions Italy on penalties to reach the semi-finals.

Spain were not the only side to impress in a competition where attack dominated defence. The Netherlands had stunned Italy 3-0, then 2006 FIFA World Cup finalists France 4-1 in successive Group C matches as Marco van Basten's men made light work of illustrious opponents. The Oranje, however, were beaten at their own game in the last eight as Guus Hiddink's Russia, inspired by Andrei Arshavin, ran out 3-1 victors after extra time. Their promising run, though, was cut short in Vienna where Spain confirmed their place in the final with a 3-0 triumph.

Host nations Switzerland and Austria both bowed out in the group stage, but neighbours Germany made themselves at home. Joachim Löw's charges started well enough with a 2-0 win against Poland, yet a defeat by Croatia in their subsequent Group B game heralded a tense finale against Austria, in which they prevailed 1-0. If Germany had struggled to hit top gear, they certainly found their stride against Portugal in the quarter-finals – jumping into a 2-0 lead within 26 minutes before emerging as 3-2 winners. More drama followed in the last four as they outlasted Turkey by the same scoreline.

Fatih Terim's team had illuminated the tournament with successive last-gasp victories over Switzerland, Czech Republic and Croatia to make the semi-finals. In Basel, however, it was their turn to endure the heartache as Lahm struck in the 90th minute to send Germany through. Lahm's joy proved short-lived. The left-back appeared to have Xavi's pass covered when the midfielder sought out Torres 33 minutes into the Vienna final, yet as so often during a memorable month for Aragonés's side, the Spanish player mastered the situation to make a decisive and winning contribution.