Spain wins first major in 44 years

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — Spain, European soccer champion. It’s been a long time.
It has taken 44 years, to be exact. With teams as talented as most opponents in the major championships they qualified for, the Spaniards always fell short. They were called underachieving, short on heart, even chokers.

With one magnificent month, Spain put all those shortcomings in the past, emphasizing its rise with a 1-0 victory over Germany in the 2008 soccer European Championship.

“We are proud to see so many people enjoying it and we have peace of mind that we done what we want to do,’’ said Fernando Torres, whose goal in the 33rd minute was the winner.

Since 1964, when Spain won Euros as the host. The only other major final it made was the 1984 Euros, losing to France.

That all changed at these Euros, where the Spaniards swept their first-round games, eliminated World Cup champion Italy in a penalty-kicks shootout in the quarterfinals, then routed Russia 3-0 in the semifinals.

“We have won in a brilliant way,’’ added the 69-year-old Luis Aragones, the oldest winning coach in Euros history. “We will be able to start saying we can win, a European championship as well as any other thing.’’

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