Europe

Fiesta time as Spain makes World Cup final

This was Spain's first ever World Cup semi-final and the fans were in high spirits.

Hours before kick-off they were painting flags on their faces and Espana up their arms and legs; street stall holders were doing a strong trade in replica shirts and red and yellow wigs and hats.

All around, huddles of young fans sang Yo soy Espanol to the tune of "Kalinka". And everywhere, everyone was predicting victory.

"We're going to do it," one girl told me. "2010 is going to be Spain's year to win."

"We'll play like we did in Euro 2008 so the whole world is impressed by Spanish players," David Cabo said, the national flag knotted around his shoulders like a cape.

"Our team is the best in history so we are going to change history tonight and win."

Euphoria

That confidence was widespread. Many fans felt sure their team could repeat Spain's 2008 victory over Germany in the European Cup final, and head for their first World Cup final.

But the reformed German team were no easy opponents. So when Carles Puyol finally scored, the crowd here exploded.

There were firecrackers, singing and dancing in the street. Euphoria, as Spain's dream of World Cup glory moved closer.

For a country deep in economic crisis, finally this was something to feel good about.

The celebrations spread across Madrid as Spain savoured its success late into the night.

Riot police had been positioned around city fountains in anticipation.

A lorry load of dancing fans headed down Gran Via; others leapt in front of cars at traffic lights, urging them on with flags proffered like matadors' capes.

The mood is euphoric, and the fans say they'll keep the fiesta going all the way to the final.

"It's a good result, now we'll go to the final and we'll beat Holland!" one told me, waving a gold replica of the World Cup.

"Spain for ever; champions of the world!"