WORLD CUP: Puyol powers Spain past Germany
For all their intricate passing it was a powerful header from Carles Puyol that saw Spain defeat Germany 1-0 and set up a meeting with Holland in the World Cup final on Sunday. GER: 0 SPA: 1
Venue: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban Crowd: 60,960 Officials Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary) Assistants: Gabor Eros and Tibor Vamos (both Hungary) Fourth official: Frank de Bleeckere (Belgium) Yellow cards:GER - none SPA - none
Red cards: none MATCH REPORT Spain in their first ever World Cup semi-final triumphed by the narrowest of margins, a second half Puyol header, over eleven time semi-finalist's, Germany. It might not have been the classic game anticipated, but Spain deserved to go through for sticking to their passing principles whilst the German's only showed attacking ambition once they fell behind.
Germany never really looked like gaining revenge for their Euro 2008 defeat by Spain in what was at times a cagey game with the European champions doing all the pressing and Germany content to defend and look dangerous from set pieces.
The first half had Spain in total control without really creating many clear cut chances. Puyol headed over whilst the lively Rodriguez Pedro had a shot well saved, but in general La Furia Roja lacked a cutting edge.
A flurry of activity at the beginning of the second half as Spain increased the tempo saw Pedro twice, then Alonso go close. Germany immediately hit back and with their best chance of the game unmarked substitute Toni Kroos could only fire a shot straight at keeper Iker Casillas.
The irony of Spain's winner on 73 minutes would not have been lost on the watching crowd. After all their slick passing a standard Hernandez Xavi corner was met by a bullet header from central defender Puyol, who climbed above the German defence to leave Manuel Neuer stranded.
Germany now began to have more attacking intent relying on their power in the air to unsettle the Spanish rearguard, but on the break twice Spain should have sealed the game as first Pedro then substitute Fernando Torres made the wrong choices when put clean through.
Three minutes of added time had to be endured by the Spanish player's and supporters before the final whistle signalled an all European final between Holland and Spain final, neither of whom have ever won the World Cup before. Starting Line-Ups
1. Manuel Neuer 16. Philip Lahm 3. Arne Friedrich 17. Per Mertesacker 20. Jerome Boateng (Jansen, 52) 6. Sami Khedira (Gomez, 79) 7. Bastian Schweinsteiger 15. Piotr Trochowski (Kroos, 62) 8. Mesut Ozil 10. Lukas Podolski 11. Miroslav Klose SUBS
12. Tim Wiese (GK) 2. Marcell Jansen 4. Dennis Aogo 5. Serdar Tasci 9. Stefan Kiessling 14. Holger Badstuber 18. Toni Kroos 19. Jeronimo Baretto Cacau 21. Marko Marin 23. Mario Gomez 22. Jorg Butt (GK) SPA
1. Iker Casillas 15. Garcia Sergio Ramos 3. Gerard Pique 5. Carles Puyol 11. Joan Capdevila 16. Sergio Busquets 14. Xabi Alonso (Marchena, 90) 6. Andres Iniesta 8. Hernandez Xavi 18. Rodriguez Pedro (Silva, 84) 7. David Villa (Torres, 80)
12. Victor Valdes (GK) 2. Raul Albiol 4. Carlos Marchena 9. Fernando Torres 10. Francesc Fabregas 13. Juan Mata 17. Alvaro Arbeloa 19. Fernando Llorente 20. Aguinaga Javi Martinez 21. David Silva 22. Gonzalez Jesus Navas 23. Jose Reina (GK)