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Spain deliver on promise at last

Spain deliver on promise at last
Spain's triumph was their first since the 1964 European Championship ©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 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 over 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 surprise 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 netted 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.

Last updated: 16/05/16 12.46CET




The final - 29/06/2008

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Team of the Tournament



  • Iker Casillas (Spain)
    Iker Casillas (Spain)
  • David Silva (Spain)
    David Silva (Spain)
  • Philipp Lahm (Germany)
    Philipp Lahm (Germany)
  • Iker Casillas (Spain) & Daniele De Rossi (Italy)
    Iker Casillas (Spain) & Daniele De Rossi (Italy)
  • Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
    Andrei Arshavin (Russia)
  • Turkey celebrate
    Turkey celebrate
  • Michael Ballack (Germany)
    Michael Ballack (Germany)
  • Daniel Güiza (Spain) & Antonis Nikopolidis (Greece)
    Daniel Güiza (Spain) & Antonis Nikopolidis (Greece)
  • Henrik Larsson, Fredrik Ljungberg & Marcus Allbäck (Sweden)
    Henrik Larsson, Fredrik Ljungberg & Marcus Allbäck (Sweden)
  • Adrian Mutu (Romania) & Khalid Boulahrouz (Netherland)
    Adrian Mutu (Romania) & Khalid Boulahrouz (Netherland)
  • Jean-Alain Boumsong (France) & Luca Toni (Italy)
    Jean-Alain Boumsong (France) & Luca Toni (Italy)
  • György Garics (Austria) & Torsten Frings (Germany)
    György Garics (Austria) & Torsten Frings (Germany)
  • Dariusz Dudka (Poland) & Ivan Klasnić (Croatia)
    Dariusz Dudka (Poland) & Ivan Klasnić (Croatia)
  • Johan Vonlanthen (Switzerland) & Fernando Meira (Portugal)
    Johan Vonlanthen (Switzerland) & Fernando Meira (Portugal)
  • Nihat Kahveci (Turkey) & Petr Čech (Czech Republic)
    Nihat Kahveci (Turkey) & Petr Čech (Czech Republic)
  • Raúl Albiol (Spain) & Henrik Larsson (Sweden)
    Raúl Albiol (Spain) & Henrik Larsson (Sweden)
  • Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia) & Angelos Basinas, Angelos Basinas (Greece)
    Roman Pavlyuchenko (Russia) & Angelos Basinas, Angelos Basinas (Greece)
  • Bogdan Lobont (Romania) & Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
    Bogdan Lobont (Romania) & Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
  • Robin van Persie (Netherlands)
    Robin van Persie (Netherlands)
  • Darijo Srna (Croatia) & Jens Lehmann (Germany)
    Darijo Srna (Croatia) & Jens Lehmann (Germany)
  • Ivica Vastic & György Garics (Austria)
    Ivica Vastic & György Garics (Austria)
  • Bosingwa (Portugal) & Libor Sionko (Czech Republic)
    Bosingwa (Portugal) & Libor Sionko (Czech Republic)
  • Arda Turan (Turkey)
    Arda Turan (Turkey)
  • David Villa, Marcos Senna (Spain) & Sergei Semak (Russia)
    David Villa, Marcos Senna (Spain) & Sergei Semak (Russia)
  • Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Greece) & Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden)
    Sotirios Kyrgiakos (Greece) & Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden)
  • Franck Ribéry (France) & Cristian Chivu, Daniel Niculae (Romania)
    Franck Ribéry (France) & Cristian Chivu, Daniel Niculae (Romania)
  • Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands) &  Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
    Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands) & Gianluigi Buffon (Italy)
  • Luka Modrić (Croatia)
    Luka Modrić (Croatia)
  • Lukas Podolski (Germany)
    Lukas Podolski (Germany)
  • Jan Koller (Czech Republic) & Gökhan Inler (Switzerland)
    Jan Koller (Czech Republic) & Gökhan Inler (Switzerland)
  • Raul Meireles (Portugal)
    Raul Meireles (Portugal)
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Also in this year

Manchester United pose with the UEFA Champions League trophy

European Cup winners: Manchester United FC (1-1, 6-5 on pens v Chelsea FC)

European Footballer of the Year: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC)

European Golden Boot winner: Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United FC)

Eurovision Song Contest winner: Dima Bilan (Russia) singing Believe

Usain Bolt (2008) running 100m

Nobel Peace Prize winner: Maarti Ahtisaari (Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Finland)

Men's Olympic 100m champion: Usain Bolt (Jamaica) running 9.69 seconds

Formula 1 world champion: Lewis Hamilton (United Kingdom) driving a McLaren

Oscar for Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire

Barack Obama

Key events
19 February – Fidel Castro announces his resignation as president of Cuba, effective of 24 February, ending 31 years in office

2 July – After six and a half years in captivity kidnapped Frenchwoman Ingrid Betancourt is rescued in Colombia

4 November – Barack Obama is elected the 44th President of the United States, the first African American to hold the post