Germany Put to the Sword by Spanish Matadors; GERMANY 0 SPAIN 1 PUYOL WINNER SETS UP WORLD CUP FINAL CLASH WITH HOLLAND
Byline: MARTIN LIPTON
TOO good for Fabio Capello and Diego Maradona, but Vicente del Bosque was one step beyond Joachim Loew and his new generation.
Germany's power-play football had taken them to the verge of a remarkable eighth World Cup final.
But where Loew was looking for revenge for Euro 2008, his boys could not pull off a man's task.
All Spain's lonely, frustrating years in the World Cup wilderness were finally ended in the Moses Mabhida Stadium as Carles Puyol headed Del Bosque's men into the Promised Land.
It was deserved too, not only for Del Bosque's brave decision to leave out Fernando Torres, trust in the youthful brilliance of Pedro and play David Villa as his strike leader, but also for the way Spain regained their footballing mojo when they needed it most.
For Germany, just like four years ago, there was only the heartbreak of semi-final defeat.
But Puyol's header, reward for Spain's attacking intent, ensures there will be a new name engraved on the World Cup trophy in Soccer City on Sunday.
The Germans had arrived in Durban hoping to do to Spain what they had done so thrillingly to England and Argentina.
But with Torres on the bench allowing Villa to play through the middle, this was a very different Spain, who dominated possession and left Loew's side chasing shadows.
Just six minutes in, Pedro, who had come into the side at the expense of the Liverpool ace, threaded a beautiful ball in behind the German back-line, with Manuel Neuer bravely saving as Villa snaked out a leg to poke goalwards.
And another great chance followed more Spanish keep-ball, the interchanging positions in the attacking third a joy to watch.
This time a short corner ended with Andres Iniesta fizzing across the six-yard box, the cross met by Puyol's flying header only for the Barcelona defender to fail to hit the target.
Germany needed to get a grip, Bastian Schweinsteiger to take a hold, Mesut Ozil to get into the game, rather than hanging on for the Spaniards to run out of gas.
Not that there seemed much likelihood of that, as Iniesta and Pedro buzzed, Sergio Ramos cantered down the right and Villa looked to snipe.
But slowly, surely, Germany started to gain a foothold and they went so close on the half-hour.
Skipper Philipp Lahm featured in attack for the first time down the right, played inside where Piotr Trochowski, in for the suspended and badly-missed Thomas Mueller, let fly, forcing Iker Casillas to turn his low strike round the post. …