Flashback: Torres make history

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Four years ago today, Fernando Torres' right boot ended almost four decades of misery in tournament football for Spain as his goal ensured La Roja captured their first international crown since 1964.

Only England could argue to have been greater underachievers among football's most established European nations over the years, but Spain lived up to their hype as pre-tournament favourites to triumph at Euro 2008.

Spain made light work of their group; winning all three of their encounters with reasonable ease, although the tight scorelines against Sweden and Greece may have suggested otherwise.

The first real test of Luis Aragone's side came in the last eight as they faced Italy, with a goalless 120 minutes leaving the match to be decided by penalty kicks.

Undaunted by memories of previous failures from the spot - Spain are the only side ever to lose to England in a shootout - Spain won out 4-2 to book a semi-final place against Russia, who had surprised all and sundry with their surge to the last four.

Spain had easily defeated Russia in the group phase but, following the opening game loss, Guus Hiddink's side had established themselves as the most exciting team in the tournament.

A 3-1 extra time win against the much fancied Netherlands shook the competition, but Spain had a winning mentality previously unheralded and dismantled the Russians in the semi-final.

Germany had endured a less straightforward passage to the final, and had a last minute goal from Philip Lahm to thank for seeing off Turkey in the last four of the competition.

Six years on from their defeat at the hands of Brazil in the World Cup final, the Germans could call on four players who had featured prominently in the campaign of 2002.

Spain, then, were certainly lacking in experience when compared to the Germans, particularly given that they had failed to progress beyond the quarter-final of a tournament since their victory in the European Championships 44 years previous.

But Spain were finally living up to expectation after years of failure and made their superiority in a dour final in Vienna count as Torres' delicate touch over Jens Lehmann weaved his name into the tapestry of Spanish football for all eternity.

Two years later, the Spaniards claimed their first ever World Cup as Andres Iniesta claimed a late winner against the Dutch and, in 2012, they have the opportunity to make even further history.

A win against Italy in Warsaw on Sunday and Spain will become the first country ever to three consecutive international tournaments. After his heroics in 2008, can Torres ensure history repeats itself four years on?

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