Spain outclass Germany to reach World Cup final (Third lead, changing dateline)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

JOHANNESBURG - Reigning European champions Spain reached their first World Cup final Wednesday by defeating three-time winners Germany 1-0 in Durban.

Barcelona defender Carles Puyol headed home the only goal of the game in the 73rd minute as Spain set up an all-European final with the Netherlands 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.

Puyol’s goal gave the reigning European champions a deserved victory over Germany, who failed to produce the attacking football which made them one of the entertaining teams at South Africa 2010.

“We are so happy. The team played their best game of the tournament. We showed that we can step up in big games,” said Spanish forward David Villa after the re-match of the Euro 2008 final, which Spain also won 1-0.

And Villa said the Spanish are hungry for the trophy in their first World Cup showdown with the Netherlands.

“We want more. We’re happy to have come this far, but we want to win the world championship.”

The winner will join record five-time winners Brazil, Italy (4), Germany (3), Uruguay (2), Argentina (2), England (1) and France (1) as the eighth nation to win a World Cup.

Germany will now take on Uruguay on Saturday in the third place game in Port Elizabeth.

“We are very disappointed right now. We wanted to do a lot more today but could not do it,” said German captain Philipp Lahm.

“We knew ahead of the tournament that they were the favourites for the tournament. But we were not courageous enough in the offence in the first half. I think we had a chance to beat Spain today. We didn’t allow many chances, but it was not enough.”

German coach Joachim Loew complimented the Spaniards.

“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,” he said.

“Offensively they were difficult to control,” he added. “They have shown they can beat anyone.

Hundreds of fans missed the game because of congestion at Durban airport. Some planes could not land and had to turn back, while others remained stuck on the ground because they were unable to take off for Durban.

Off the pitch, Dutch World Cup players were given two days off by coach Bert van Marwijk after their 3-2 semi-final victory over Uruguay in Cape Town Tuesday.

The coach said he would begin preparations for the final Friday, following a brief interruption Thursday when the squad moves to a new hotel.

The Dutch federation KNVB said the squad had to vacate its rooms at the Johannesburg Hilton because it had been allocated a different hotel by the sport’s ruling body FIFA.

Fourteen African heads of state have confirmed their attendance at the final, among them Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. South Africa President Jacob Zuma will also be there.

Uruguay striker Diego Forlan said he hopes to be fit to play in the third place game despite coming off early against the Netherlands with a tendon problem.

“I have a slight strain above the tendon, caused by fatigue, but we will wait and see if I can make it in time for Saturday,” the Atletico Madrid striker said.

Forlan has four goals in the tournament and will have the chance to add to that tally against Germany in Port Elizabeth if he passes fit.

Striker Luis Suarez will be back for the game, having served his one-match suspension for handball against Ghana in the quarter-finals.

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