Carlos Puyol's header sends Spain into their first World Cup Final.
Germany 0-1 Spain
FIFA World Cup 2010
7.30pm (BST), Wednesday 7 July
Durban Stadium, Durban
Carlos Puyol’s 73rd minute goal was enough for Spain to beat Germany and reach the World Cup Final against Holland, ensuring that the winner of Sunday’s showpiece will be a first-time world champion.
Puyol struck the all-important goal with a thumping header from Xavi’s corner after a period of sustained pressure from the Spanish, who looked more adventurous than the Germans throughout and deserved to win a game that again failed to live up to expectations.
In truth it was another dour affair with precious little goalmouth incident and few real efforts on target. Instead it was a classic game of cat and mouse, with Spain trying to pass their way intricately through a stubborn German backline, while Joachim Loew’s men were content to attack on the break, as they had done so effectively against England and Argentina.
But without the suspended Thomas Mueller, Germany lacked pace and Miroslav Klose often looked isolated in attack as the Spanish dominated possession and had the majority of what few chances there were. David Villa had an early chance when he ran on to Pedro’s through ball but Manuel Neuer was out quickly to save at his feet.
Puyol missed a header from close range and Xabi Alonso shot wide from 25 yards before the Germans had any chance of note, when Piotr Trochowski's low shot was tipped away by Iker Casillas.
Towards the end of the first half, Germany had a penalty appeal turned down when Mesut Ozil’s legs were clipped by Sergio Ramos, but Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai waved play on.
The Spanish started the second half in more determined fashion again, and Alonso shot wide from distance twice in quick succession before Villa curled a shot past the far post. Pedro had a stinging drive saved by Neuer, who then saved a shot at his near post from Villa after the new Barcelona striker cut in from the right.
Germany could have taken the lead against the run of play in the 69th minute when Lukas Podolski crossed for Tony Kroos to shoot, but the substitute hit his effort straight at Casillas, and Germany were made to pay moments later.
Xavi took a corner from the left, Puyol powered in and thumped his header home from ten yards, with Neuer unable to do much more than help the ball into the net.
Fernando Torres, dropped from the opening line-up, went on as substitute for Villa and would have had a great chance on the break if Pedro had passed to him unmarked instead of trying – and failing – to score himself.
But in the end the Spanish held on to make sure their first World Cup semi-final was a successful one – and now face Holland for the first time in a major championship.
Germany 1 Manuel Neuer; 16 Philipp Lahm, 3 Arne Friedrich, 17 Per Mertesacker, 20 Jerome Boateng (2 Martin Jansen 51), 15 Piotr Trochowski (18 Tony Kroos 61), 6 Sami Khedira( 23 Mario Gomez 80), 7 Bastian Schweinsteiger, 10 Lukas Podolski, 8 Mesut Ozil, 11 Miroslav Klose.
Subs not used 12 Wiese, 22 Butt, 5 Tasci, 14 Badstuber, 4 Aogo, 21 Marin, 9 Kiessling, 19 Cacau,
Spain 1 Iker Casillas; 15 Sergio Ramos, 3 Gerard Pique, 5 Carles Puyol, 11 Joan Capdevila; 14 Xabi Alonso (4 Carlos Marchena 90), 8 Xavi, 6 Andres Iniesta, 16 Sergio Busquets; 18 Pedro ( 21 David Silva 85), 7 David Villa (9 Fernando Torres 80)
Subs not used 12 Valdes, 23 Reina, 2 Albiol, 17 Arbeloa, 10 Fabregas, 20 Javi Martinez, 22 G Jesus Navas, 13 Mata, 19 Llorente
Referee Viktor Kassai (Hungary)