Viva España – Spain lift World Cup for the first time
Spain have become the eighth nation to taste World Cup glory after Andres Iniesta’s extra-time goal earned a narrow 1-0 win over the Netherlands in Johannesburg.
Chances were few and far between in a largely unattractive final, with referee Howard Webb showing 14 yellow cards.
As the nation which introduced the concept of ‘total football’ to the world, the Netherlands disappointed. Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong opted to limit Spain’s attacking threat with unrelenting brute force.
De Jong in particular was fortunate not to have been dismissed early in the first half when his horrific high kick caught Xabi Alonso in the chest.
Spain right-back Sergio Ramos failed to capitalise on two clear openings during the opening exchanges. The Real Madrid defender’s diving header tested the reflexes of Maarten Stekelenburg and then minutes later he flashed a shot across goal.
David Villa was kept quiet while Fernando Torres’ appearance as an impact substitute for the second-half of extra time failed to trouble the Netherlands defence.
Bert van Marwijk’s side patiently waited to launch counter-attacks. Arjen Robben twice broke past Carles Puyol to be through on goal but Iker Casillas denied the Bayern Munich winger on both occasions.
Ramos was afforded time and space from a Xavi corner late in the second half, but the defender blazed his header over the crossbar.
The match inevitably headed into extra-time and unsurprisingly Holland failed to finish the final with 11 men. John Heitinga was dismissed for a second bookable offence after bringing down Iniesta on the edge of the penalty area.
With four minutes of extra-time remaining and the prospect of a penalty shoot-out looming, referee Webb failed to halt play when Holland’s Eljero Elia appeared to be blocked off by Ramos and CescFabregas.
The ensuing Spanish move eventually saw the ball back withFabregas, who provided Iniesta with the chance to seal the trophy for Spain.
Iniesta nonchalantly drove a right-footed shot past the stranded Stekelenburg to spark frenzied celebrations.
An emotional Casillas lifted the trophy which had eluded his country for so long -fitting for the player who played a crucial role in an otherwise mundane final.