Spain off to World Cup final with 1-0 win over Germany

Carles Puyol scored the lone goal and Spain advanced to its first World Cup final after a 1-0 victory over Germany Wednesday in Durban.

Puyol was an unlikely hero as the 32-year-old defender scored his first ever goal in World Cup competition.

It was well-deserved retribution for Puyol, who had a glorious chance to convert a header in the first half only to send it over the goal.

The start of the game produced little excitement, as the Spaniards continued its defensive proficiency. They have yet to concede a goal before half time thus far in South Africa.

David Villa almost broke the stalemate in the seventh minute, but his sliding attempt wasn’t enough to push the ball past the charging German keeper.

Spain controlled possession early on and didn’t give up much ground while outshooting the German’s 2-1 in the half.

La Furia Roja amped up the pace in the early going of the second half, as Xabi Alonso narrowly missed two heavy strikes from the top of the box followed by a David Villa attempt that sailed wide.

Despite owning the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half, German striker Miroslav Klose had the best opportunity in the 69th minute after corralling a crossed ball and blasting it on net only to be thwarted by a diving Iker Casillas.

But it was only a matter of time before the Spanish attack broke down the German defense.

In the 73rd minute, Xavi laid in a perfect corner that found an onrushing Puyol who headed it past Manuel Neuer and into the net.

He was swarmed by his red-clad teammates and the Spanish supporters in attendance exploded in celebration.

Fernando Torres came off the bench in the 81st minute and it nearly paid immediate dividends.

He broke in on a two-on-one with Pedro, who tried to dance around the lone defender but was stopped. Torres threw his arms up in frustration while Pedro hung his head and jogged back up field

But all was forgotten shortly after as Spain was able to hold its ground down the stretch and advance to its first World Cup final in team history.

The 2008 European Champions will take on the Netherlands who defeated Uruguay 3-2 on Tuesday.

In head-to-head competition, Netherlands has won four with a draw while Spain has won three with a draw.

Kickoff is set for 2:30 ET, Sunday in Johannesburg.