(CNN) -- A first-half goal from Liverpool striker Fernando Torres proved enough to give Spain a 1-0 victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 final in Vienna, ending their 44-year wait for a major tournament success.
Fernando Torres holds the European Championship trophy aloft after Spain's deserved 1-0 win over Germany.
Spain's only previous major honor came when they won the 1964 European Championships on home soil. But that trophy drought ended in the 33rd minute when Torres outmuscled Germany defender Philipp Lahm from Xavi's inch-perfect pass, before dinking the ball over on-coming goalkeeper Jens Lehmann.
Germany had enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and could have gone ahead as early as the third minute after a mistake from right-back Sergio Ramos.
The Real Madrid defender passed the ball straight to Miroslav Klose, but the Bayern Munich striker's touch was poor and he ran the ball out.
Most of Germany's early attacking play came down their left and captain Michael Ballack, who passed a late fitness test on a calf injury to take his place in the side, burst through from midfield in the seventh minute only to over-hit his cross.
A minute later, Germany again threatened and midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger tried his luck from long-range, but goalkeeper Iker Casillas saved comfortably.
Gradually Spain began to find their feet, enjoying more possession with their intricate one-touch passing game -- and this nearly paid dividends in the 14th minute.
Xavi produced a superb pass to his Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta who had burst into the left-hand side of the area. Iniesta's cross deflected off Christophe Metzelder, forcing Jens Lehmann into an instinctive save to push the ball away.
Then, just eight minutes later, Spain went even closer to breaking the deadlock when Ramos' cross from the right was met by a superb towering header from Torres, only for the ball to strike the base of the post with Lehmann beaten.
Torres' pace and power was causing all sorts of problems and his goal, after Xavi's pass had completely dissected a static German defense, was just reward for Spain's first-half dominance.
Just two minutes after the goal, Spain should have doubled their advantage. Iniesta again caused problems on the left and his cross found David Silva unmarked on the far side of the area, but the Valenica midfielder blazed wildly over the bar when in acres of space.
Germany coach Joachim Loew responded at half-time by removing Lahm for Marcell Jansen but Spain continued to set the tempo early in the second half.
Cesc Fabregas, who was replacing the injured David Villa in coach Luis Aragones' only change from the Spanish side that beat Russia in the semis, set up Xavi, whose shot flashed wide. Then Silva also tried his luck from long-range, again just missing the German goal.
With Germany showing no sign of causing any problems to the Spain defense, Loew brought on Schalke striker Kevin Kuryani for Hitzlsperger and immediately they began to look more dangerous.
Ballack shot inches wide in the 57th minute after being set up by Bastian Schweinsteiger following a mistake by defender Carlos Puyol. Then Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger's powerful run ended with his shot deflected wide off his own player Klose.
Spain's best chance to increase their lead came midway the second half when the German defense made a mess of their offside trap, leaving Ramos unmarked with a free header. However, with the whole goal to aim for, the Real Madrid defender nodded the ball straight at Lehmann, who parried over.
With Germany pressing for an equalizer their fragile defense began to look even more exposed and in the 68th minute Iniesta's shot from a quick corner was cleared off the line by Torsten Frings.
As the half wore on, Aragones risked his reputation by substituting playmaker Fabregas for Xabi Alonso and the brilliant Torres, who had worked tirelessly as the lone front man, for Real Mallorca striker Dani Guiza.
Yet, they remained the side more likely to score and so nearly added a second goal in the 80th minute when Marcos Senna narrowly missed making contact with Guiza's perfect knock-back across the box.
Loew made a final change, bringing on striker Mario Gomez in an attempt to get back in the game, but nothing they tried troubled the resolute Spanish defense and Spain comfortably held on for the dying few minutes to claim a deserved and famous victory.