Yearender: Triumphs of Spain, Lionel Messi golden hallmarks of 2012

Dec 18 2012, 11:24 IST
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Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas lifts the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine. Spain won the match 4-0. (AP) Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas lifts the trophy after the Euro 2012 soccer championship final between Spain and Italy in Kiev, Ukraine. Spain won the match 4-0. (AP)
SummaryBut year was also marred by tragedy and death in Egypt and Netherlands and a worrying escalation of racism in Europe.

Spain's glorious third successive triumph in a major tournament and individual goalscoring brilliance from Argentine Lionel Messi will be remembered as soccer's golden hallmarks of 2012.

But the year was also marred by tragedy and death in Egypt and the Netherlands and a worrying escalation of racism in Europe.

It was a year too when the soccer world shifted on its axis and finally spun away from its 19th century roots when 21st century goalline technology, officially sanctioned by world governing body FIFA, was used for the first time in December's Club World Cup finals in Japan.

That tournament, which ended on Sunday, saw Corinthians of Brazil crowned as the best club team in the world - an accolade most people would agree rightfully belongs to Barcelona.

But in one of the great upsets of the year, Barcelona failed to win the Champions League which seemed pre-ordained for them when they somehow lost to Chelsea on aggregate in the semi-finals after Messi, proving he was only human after all, missed a penalty in the second leg.

He had however scored 90 goals with two weeks of the year remaining, beating West Germany's former striker Gerd Mueller's 40-year-old record for goals scored in a calendar year.

DIVINE INSPIRATION

Chelsea, who finished sixth in the Premier League in May, went on to Munich for the Champions League final.

Written off by virtually all of Europe's media before they played Barcelona, they again confounded the critics by beating Bayern Munich on penalties in their own stadium to become the first London club to lift the European Cup in its 57-year history.

Despite also winning the FA Cup, it was not a year without huge problems for the now deposed European champions, who are owned and run by the ruthless billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Six months after leading the club to the greatest night in their 107-year history, coach Roberto Di Matteo was cast aside by the Russian - just before Chelsea became the first defending champions to be eliminated from the group stage of the competition.

Their tilt at the world club title also ended in failure when they lost to Corinthians.

Their triumphs were further blemished by racist controversies involving captain John Terry - found guilty and banned by the English FA despite being cleared in an earlier court case - and unfounded allegations made by the club against Premier League and FIFA referee Mark Clattenburg.

RECORD VICTORY

Spain were untroubled by controversies at Euro 2012 and

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