|Fernando Verdasco returns a shot [GALLO/GETTY]
Spain shrugged off the absence of Rafael Nadal to stun Argentina in front of their home crowd in the Davis Cup final.
Fernando Verdasco defeated Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-7 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, giving Spain their third trophy.
The Spaniards reached an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five series in front of a boisterous Argentine crowd at Islas Malvinas Stadium.
Verdasco, replacing David Ferrer in the reverse singles, overcame nine double-faults to beat a shaky Acasuso in 3 hours, 56 minutes.
The 48th-ranked Acasuso was a late replacement for the injured Juan Martin del Potro, Argentina's top-ranked player at No. 9.
It is Spain's first Davis Cup title win on the road, adding to their home victories in 2000 and 2004.
After winning match point, Verdasco dropped to the ground in celebration and was embraced by the rest of the team.
The result snapped a 10-year unbeaten home streak for Argentina, who last lost in front of their fans in 1998 to Slovakia.
It was their first final at home.
The fans cheered loudly throughout the three-day final, and chanted "Argentina, Argentina," even after Acasuso's loss on Sunday.
Argentina had entered the final heavily favoured to win their first title after world No. 1 Nadal withdrew last week because of a knee injury.
But despite the support of nearly 10,000 fans, Acasuso was not able to keep up with Verdasco, who had played well in the doubles' victory alongside Feliciano Lopez.
Acasuso served 14 aces, but his 47 unforced errors kept him from breaking through.
Acasuso had won his only other match against Verdasco, whose Davis Cup singles record improved to 4-3.
Acasuso is 5-3.
Del Potro injured
The 20-year-old Del Potro, one of the hottest players on tour this year, injured his right thigh in a four-set loss to Lopez on Friday.
Verdasco came in for David Ferrer after he lost his singles match in three sets to David Nalbandian, also on Friday.
Spain's doubles win on Saturday ensured they needed just one victory on the final day to clinch the title, while the Argentines were left with the difficult task of having to win both Sunday matches.
Verdasco broke Acasuso's service in the sixth game, going up 4-2 to easily win the first set.
That silenced the crowd, but Acasuso lifted the fans by winning the second-set tiebreaker after each player broke twice.
One of the breaks came when Acasuso was serving for the set at 5-4.
The Argentine kept pressing in the third set, breaking Verdasco in the first game and twice more to lead 2-1 despite dropping serve twice.
Verdasco stayed in the match with a solid fourth set, breaking Acasuso to lead 4-2 and winning four of the last five games.
The Spaniard then dominated the fifth set, winning the first four games and cruising to victory.
Moving on up
|Verdasco and Lopez celebrate match point in the doubles [GALLO/GETTY]
The title moved Spain from fourth to second in Davis Cup rankings, behind Russia.
Argentina would have reached No. 1 with a victory.
It was Spain's third win over Argentina in as many attempts.
The other two victories, in 1926 and 2003, came at home on clay.
The Argentines chose the blue indoor hard-court for the final, trying to curtail the Spaniards' advantage on clay.
It was only the 12th time in 28 finals that the home team had lost since the inaugural World Group in 1981.
Spain beat Australia in the 2000 final and then defeated the United States in 2004.
The Spaniards also made the semi-finals in 1965, '67 and 2003, losing all three times to hosts Australia.
Argentina had reached the final twice, losing to the US in 1981 and to Russia in 2006.
It was the second time the Davis Cup final was held in Latin America, after Chile lost to Italy in 1976.
Argentina joined Romania and India as the only nations to fail to win a title in their first three final appearances.
The United States won last year's final, beating Russia at home.