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Torres steps out from under Villa´s shadow

Fernando Torres showed that anything his fellow striker David Villa can do he can do too with the precious goal that gave Spain victory over Germany in Sunday's Euro 2008 final.

Villa had stolen most of the limelight away from the Liverpool forward at Euro 2008 up to Sunday night with his four goal harvest making him the competition's leading scorer.

But injury in the first half of the Spaniard's semi-final success over Russia left the big stage clear for the Premier League star.

Torres was deployed by coach Luis Aragones as a lone striker served by a five man midfield featuring his Premier League rival Cesc Fabregas.

And after a hesitant start he made himself known to the German defence in the 20th minute with a looping header which went high.

Two minutes later he had the best chance of the opening exchanges, his downward header hitting Jens Lehmann's far post.

Then on 33 minutes his moment of glory came.

Xavi was the instigator of the move that will have set the hearts of 44 million Spaniards beating at 100 miles an hour.

The Barcelona midfielder slid a perfect pass through to Torres who used his muscle and skill to see off German defender Phillip Lahm, lifting his shot over Lehmann and into the far corner.

“For me, it's a dream come true,” said Torres.

“Victory in a Euro, is almost as big as a World Cup. I think that we have played very good football throughout the tournament and it was justice done when we won the final.”

His 74th minute booking for a foul on Christoph Metzelder will hardly have ruined his evening and he was eventually replaced by Dani Guiza four minutes later, his work done.

The blonde-haired forward who had a sensational debut season at Liverpool with 33 goals opened his account at this Euro against Sweden in the second match, but had up to now been largely overshadowed by Villa.

Torres, for whom this was his 17 international goal in his 53rd cap, had developed a forceful partnership with Villa – a major factor in Spain's waltz through the group stages.

Villa paid tribute to his strike partner after his opening hat-trick against Russia, saying: “People don't really notice the work he does in terms of creating chances.

“Two of my goals were due entirely to his huge amount of work in the lead up to them.”

Torres won best player and top scorer prizes at the Under-16 and Under-19 world championships in 2001 and 2002, and scored three goals at the 2006 World Cup in which Spain went out in the second round.

Quick and lethal in front of goal Torres, who joined Liverpool for a reported 30 million Euro fee, was given the nickname 'El Nino' when appointed Atletico Madrid captain at 19.

Now aged 24 'the kid' showed flashes of brilliance in last Thursday's semi-final and put in a man's performance here Sunday.

It's not hard to see why Liverpool have put a 'not for sale at any price' sign on his head after rumours that Chelsea are about to mount a bid.

Sun 29 June, 2008
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