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Torres shoots Spain to title
by Ridge Mahoney, June 30th, 2008 7AM
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[SPAIN-GERMANY REPORT CARD] Its leading scorer sidelined and its semifinal hero sputtering, Spain nonetheless deservedly captured its first European Championship title in 44 years by dispatching Germany, 1-0, Sunday night in Vienna with a Fernando Torres goal and a resilient, nerveless defensive performance. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the players.

Torres, who had struggled through a dismal showing in the 3-0 semifinal defeat of Russia, sounded an early warning by hitting the post with a header. In the 33rd minute he ran onto a Xavi Hernandez through ball to ride a Philipp Lahm tackle and clipped his shot over keeper Jens Lehmann just inside the far post.

The cohesion and commitment of midfielders Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, Dario Senna and substitute Xabi Alonso subdued German catalysts Michael Ballack and Bastian Schweinsteiger. They also compensated for a lackluster Cesc Fabregas, hero of the semifinal with two assists but more of a spectator in this match before and after his departure in the 63rd minute.

Once it fell behind, Germany seldom revived the confidence it had showed while creating a couple of half-chances prior to Torres' goal. It couldn't exploit its traditional strength on set plays, and mustered just three shots.

Spain Player Ratings
GRADE PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Iker Casillas (Real Madrid) 82/0
7 Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid) 39/4
7 Carlos Marchena (Valencia) 47/2
7 Carles Puyol (Barcelona) 66/1
5 Joan Capdevila (Villarreal) 23/3
6 Andres Iniesta (Barcelona) 29/5
7 Marcos Senna (Villarreal) 16/0
7 Xavi (Barcelona) 63/7
5 David Silva (Valencia) 19/3
4 Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal) 32/1
7 Fernando Torres (Liverpool) 54/17
Subs:
nr Daniel Guiza (Real Mallorca) 8/2
6 Xabi Alonso (Liverpool) 47/1
5 Santi Cazorla Villarreal) 7/0

Germany Player Ratings
GRADE PLAYER (CLUB) GP/G
6 Jens Lehmann (Arsenal) 61/0
5 Arne Friedrich (Hertha Berlin) 61/0
4 Per Mertesacker (Werder Bremen) 40/1
5 Christoph Metzelder (Real Madrid) 47/0
4 Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich) 47/3
3 Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) 56/15
5 Torsten Frings (Werder Bremen) 77/10
4 Michael Ballack (Chelsea) 87/38
4 Thomas Hitzlsperger (VfB Stuttgart) 38/5
3 Lukas Podolski (Bayern Munich) 54/28
3 Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich) 81/41
Subs:
5 Marcell Jansen (Bayern Munich) 27/1
4 Kevin Kuranyi (Schalke 04) 41/19
3 Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart) 14/6



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