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  • 02:21 PM ET  06.29

Full time: The final whistle has blown and the Spanish players storm onto the pitch to celebrate Spain's first major championship in 44 years -- and its second of all-time. You've got to feel sorry for Michael Ballack, who finishes his 2007-08 season with runner-up finishes in the Carling Cup, English Premier League, Champions League and, finally, the European Championships. But you've also got to feel satisfied knowing the most industrious side won. Spain generated more chances, logging a 14-4 advantage on shots and 8-3 on shots on goal. And what a season for Fernando Torres, who scores 24 of his 33 goals in Premiership games to break Ruud van Nistelrooy's record for most league goals by a foreigner in a debut season -- and turns around to score the opportunistic winner in the final of the European Championship. Well done.

90+1': Three minutes of stoppage time. 

90': Germany launches one more desperate counter-attack in the 90th minute. Capdevila may or may not have fouled Mario Gomez in the box but Germany doesn't get the call, despite much protest from Ballack & Co.

88': Another yellow card, this time for Kuranyi. The hysterical Spanish fans are starting to believe. 

85': Kuranyi commites a foul directly in front of the goal outside of the area. Spain has a golden opportunity here to put this match away. It's unclear who's taking the free kick, with four Spanish players congregation behind the ball. Xavi ends up taking the kick, placing it somewhere in the 23rd row behind goal.

81': Marcos Senna comes agonizingly close to putting this game out of reach -- as a Spanish combination falls at his foot near the front of the goal -- but the Brazilian native can't punch it home. Another scary moment there for Germany. Spain continues to force the issue, refusing to sit back and play defensively during the last 10 minutes.

78': Aragones makes his third and final substitution, inserting Dani Guiza for Fernando Torres. Low also makes his third sub, plugging in Mario Gomez for Klose. 

76': Spain looking organized in counter-attack ... Xavi ... to Torres ... and Spain wins another corner. A second goal here would prove fatal for the Germans. 

74': Ballack whistled for offsides as Germany continues to press. Fernando Torres booked on the other end for ... well, we're really not sure why. Torres knocked heads with a German defender on a 50-50 ball but didn't seem like the aggressor. 

70': Jansen earns a crucial free kick here when Sergio Ramos commits a foul just outside the area on the left corner. Big opportunity here for Germany.

68': The Spanish get two very dangerous shots on goal in a 45-second span. First, Sergio Ramos almost heads home the second goal off a free kick. Then, Spain nearly scores on the subsequent corner.  

66': Spain makes another sub as Villareal's Santi Cazorla comes on for David Silva.

64': Aragones makes his first sub: Liverpool's Xabi Alonso on for Arsenal's Cesc Febregas. We've got another flash point here involving Lukas Podolski. Ballack looks irate, screaming in the ear of Italian referee Roberto Rosetti hoping to get David Silva sent off for an apparent head butt. Doesn't look like much from the replay.

62': And the Germans look to strike back. Casillas is just on time to punch away Ballack's perfectly placed cross for Kuranyi. Germany really pushing the tempo here, with Schweinsteiger revealing himself following an invisible first hour.

58': Low makes his second sub of the game: an appropriately offensive switch with Hitzlsperger exiting in favor of Schalke 04 striker Kevin Kuranyi. Germany will revert to a 4-4-2 formation, as ABC commentator Andy Gray astutely observes.

55': Torres just won another foot race for the ball near the outside of the area, but Lehmann scoops up the ball.

54': Two shots toward the far post in the past two minutes for the Spanish. They're really knocking on the door now, knowing a 2-0 lead could spell curtains for the Germans. 

51': German striker Miroslav Klose, a semifinal hero and the 2006 World Cup top scorer, got shaken up just there and walks toward the sideline.  

49': Questionable no-call there as Torres is taken down by his German marker in a one-on-one situation. 

46': Germany's Joachim Löw makes the first substitution of the match as Germany's Marcell Jansen replaces semifinal hero Philipp Lahm.

Halftime: A singular moment of brilliance from Fernando Torres is all there is to separate these two sides through 45 minutes. Germany staked a slight advantage during the first 15 minutes -- attributable perhaps to their big-game experience? -- but Spain has really forced the issue for the past half hour and looked like the better side.

43': A bit of a flash point here as another Ballack foul incites a storm of Spanish protest. Ballack and Casillas end up getting booked with yellow cards. 

42': ... Hitzlsperger sets up for a volley but a Spanish defender leaps in to clear the ball. 

41': Germany looks to equalize on a corner kick. Casillas punches away but the Germans maintain possession and win another corner from the opposite side ... 

39': Ballack comes onto the pitch spilling blood from his right eyebrow and generally looking like a prizefighter. Referee Roberto Rosetti promptly sends him back to the sideline and the trainers frantically look to patch him up.

35': They're working on Ballack on the sidelines after the midfielder knocked heads with Marcos Senna on a 50-50 ball just moments ago.

33': GOAL! Another wonderful through ball from Xavi is lifted by Fernando Torres over Jens Lehmann and trickles slowly into the left side of the goal. It's the vintage something-from-nothing goal which Torres has been scoring all year for Liverpool.

30': We're scoreless through a half hour but the pace has really picked up. I'd be surprised if we're still on zeroes for much longer. 

29': Metzelder breaks up a beautiful through ball to Torres but Spain wins a corner. Possession returned to Germany when Sergio Ramos commits a foul on the corner.

25': The Germans respond with a dangerous chance of their own, when Ballack's right-footed rocket lands squarely in Sergio Ramos' rib cage. We're still level but the tension from the opening minutes has given way to a more offensive-minded game.

22': Sergio Ramos loops a cross into the box. Torres gets up and nearly opens the scoring for the Spanish, but his perfectly executed header rockets off the woodwork. Germany exhales, knowing goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was beaten there.

20': Christoph Metzelder fouls Torres badly on the right side of the area, giving Spain a set piece just 20 yards from the goal. Xavi's free kick finds the head of Torres in the box but bounces harmlessly out of bounds, wide and high of the goal.  

18': Iniesta punches forward an excellent through ball to Torres, who can't quite generate a scoring chance from the left side of the area. Spain looking more and more confident approaching the midpoint of the first half. 

14': Spain gets its first and best chance of the game, when Iniesta receives a goregeous through ball from Xavi and wins a corner when his shot attempt is deflected out of bounds. The Germans have looked slightly more organized and concerted in attack, but Spain seems to be getting more comfortable with the stage.

12': Germany wins the game's first corner after a nifty sequence fails to lead to a scoring chance, but Casillas safely punches the entry away. 

9': Thomas Hitzlsperger uncorks the game's first shot on goal, a right-footed effort from just outside the area which veers directly into the waiting hands of Iker Casillas.

8': Michael Ballack's potentially dangerous left-footed cross floats harmlessly across the mouth of the goal.

6': Kind of a timid opening so far. Both sides seem hesistant to apply pressure, giving the opponent an early opportunity in counter-attack.

3': A terrible giveaway in the back by Spain's Sergio Ramos is intercepted by Miroslav Klose, but the German striker can't quite convert the turnover into an opportunity. Goal kick for Spain.

1': We're underway from Vienna, with Spain sporting their traditional red shirts with black shorts and Germany wearing white shirts with black shorts.

0': Michael Ballack is starting for Germany despite right calf problems. David Villa is not starting for Spain.

Germany: Jens Lehmann, Christoph Metzelder, Arne Friedrich, Philip Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Torsten Frings, Michael Ballack, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski

Spain: Iker Casillas, Carlos Marchena, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Sergio Ramos, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Marcos Senna, Cesc Fábregas, David Silva, Fernando Torres 

* * * 

Here's today's Starting Eleven, the 11 things you need to know about the Euro 2008 final between Spain and Germany, a pair of international soccer giants eager to build on proud traditions:

1. Today's fixture is the 20th all-time meeting between Germany and Spain but the first in a major final. In fact, it's the first time the two countries have met in a single-match knockout game in the World Cup or the European Championships.

2. The latest scuttlebutt indicates Germany could be missing captain Michael Ballack, who sat out Saturday's final practice with a right calf issue. That would be a shame. Six summers ago, the Görlitz native also sat out the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil with a suspension, after almost single-handedly carrying the Germans through the knockout stages.

3. Speaking of Ballack: Will Germany's captain finish as a runner-up for the third time this year? His Chelsea side finished second to Manchester United in the English Premier League this season and lost to the Red Devils in the Champions League final in May. A loss today would notch the Bridesmaid Trifecta for the veteran midfielder.

4. Spain's David Villa, the tournament's scoring leader with four goals, is also expected to miss the final with a foot injury. Luis Aragones is expected to respond by going with an extra midfielder, giving Arsenal playmaker Cesc Fabregas his first start of the tournament and shifting from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1. The tactical change means Fernando Torres would operate as the team's lone striker.

5. Spain hasn't lost since November 2006, a string of 21 matches. The run includes two meetings with reigning world champions Italy: a 1-0 victory in a March friendly and last Sunday's scoreless quarterfinal where the Spanish advanced on penalties.

6. Germany has a silver case worthy of a superpower, with three World Cups and a record three European Championships to their name. But Spain has brought home just one major crown -- at Euro 1964 -- and could double their all-time major trophy count with a victory today.

7. Spain's last appearance in the final of a major tournament was Euro 1984, when La Furia Roja fell to a France side led by Michael Platini. The Spanish eliminated the Germans from the quarterfinals in that tournament with a 1-0 victory.

8. Spain leads the tournament in scoring with 11 goals. Germany ranks second with 10. The numbers would suggest an open, end-to-end match today.

9. Germany and Spain haven't met in a major tournament since the 1994 World Cup, when the countries played to a 1-1 draw at Chicago's Soldier Field in the group stage.

10. Vienna's Ernst Happel Stadium lends the backdrop for today's match, just three days after hosting the Spain-Russia semifinal. It's namesake was Austria's greatest coach, who won a European Cup with Feyenoord and Hamburg and led the Dutch to the 1978 World Cup final.

11. Italian hospital manager Roberto Rosetti is the referee for today's match. Rosetti has overseen three games at Euro 2008 -- the Croatia-Turkey quarterfinal and the Greece-Russia and Switzerland-Czech Republic group matches. He also earned praise for his handling of the Champions League semifinal second leg between Chelsea and Liverpool this past April.

Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o predicted Spain to win this tournament last month. "Spain have always been very good technically," Eto'o said, "but there's a new and impressive hardness about the current Spain team that has been missing in recent tournaments." I couldn't agree with the Cameroonian striker more. You pick against the Germans at your own risk, but I'm counting on this intangible to help the Spanish shed their reputation for coming up small when the spotlight burns brightest. Prediction: Spain 2, Germany 0

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