MADRID (AP) — Spaniards blasted off fireworks and jumped for joy after their soccer team won the European Championship on Sunday night, giving temporary relief from the crushing economic woes that have engulfed the nation.
Tens of thousands gathered in central Madrid to watch their team beat Italy 4-0 and shout out "Gol!" more times than they thought possible. Even better for Spain, the country's team became the first ever to win a Euro, then a World Cup and then another Euro.
"We needed this win to counteract the suffering caused by the crisis, which seems endless," said a smiling Antonio Ferrillo in downtown Madrid as cars drove by with passengers yelling "Espana!, Espana!" as they waved the country's red and yellow flag.
Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the 17-nation eurozone, is immersed in a deepening recession and recently asked for a bailout to prop up its hurting banks.
The victory gave Spaniards undisputed proof the team is the best in the world, setting off celebrations in all corners of the country.
A huge crowd watched the game on the streets on huge screen erected outside the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, the home of the Real Madrid club team. Dressed almost unanimously in red and yellow, they hugged each other, cried and jumped and danced in glee when the game ended.