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Spain`s first World Cup sparks nationwide fiesta

Sports Desk |
Update: 2010-07-11 18:56:09

MADRID: A thunderous roar erupted across the Spanish capital and fans danced in the streets chanting "Viva Espana!" as the country`s first ever World Cup trophy sparked a nationwide fiesta.

The centre of Madrid was a sea of the red and gold national colours as Spain celebrated its nailbiting 1-0 extra-time win over Holland Sunday.

The deafening sounds of cheering, klaxons, firecrackers and cars horns rang out as the World Cup`s perennial underachievers won the trophy in their first appearance in the final thanks to a late goal from Andres Iniesta.

In temperatures of 37 C (99 F), more than 150,000 supporters watched the match on massive screens in a giant "fan park" in a one-kilometre (half-mile) stretch of the city`s main thoroughfare.

At the final whistle, the crowd chanted "Spanish, Spanish, We are Spanish" and "Viva Espana", at the start of a fiesta that was set to last throughout the night.

"We are very proud and very happy, I thought it would go to penalties, Iniesta saved us," said Raul, 18. "We deserved it after winning the European championship in 2008."

Said Adolfo, 25, "It`s an extraordinary feeling, of happiness and nerves."

Others crammed into bars or stayed home for the match, which left the country paralysed Sunday evening.

Many were wrapped in the Spanish flag, wore the red team shirts or red wigs, or had their faces painted red and gold.

One young woman was disguised as an octopus, in tribute to Paul, the now famous clairvoyant cephalopod in Germany who predicted Spain`s victory.

Thousands of fans had earlier poured into the capital from other parts of the country to soak up the atmosphere, many travelling all night and planning to leave the next morning after a night of revelry.

More than 2,000 police officers were on duty in the capital in case of incidents, along with medical teams.

Almost all towns and cities throughout the country installed giant screens for people to watch the match.

Even in Catalonia, a region with its own distinct culture and language and which has traditionally been disdainful of the Spanish national team, there was excitement.

Authorities in the Catalan capital of Barcelona set up a giant outdoor fan park for the final for the first time during the tournament, where authorities said around 75,000 people watched the match.

The crowd erupted with joy and waved Spanish flags, with many in tears at the historic victory.

BDST: 0404hrs, July 12, 2010

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