Andres Iniesta's strike with four minutes left of extra-time fired Spain to World Cup glory for the first time in their history as they vanquished Holland in a fractious final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.
In an encounter riddled with persistent fouling, in particular from the Dutch, who had John Heitinga dismissed late on, Spain emerged as victors courtesy of Iniesta's effort that came in the 116th minute of the tie.
The success completes a marvellous two years for Spain, who were crowned European champions in 2008, as Holland's 25-match unbeaten run came to an end in South Africa.
As expected, Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque again overlooked the rusty Fernando Torres with the 22-year-old Pedro keeping his place in the starting XI that defeated Germany. For Holland, Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong returned from suspension to replace Khalid Boulahrouz and Demy De Zeeuw.
Former South Africa president Nelson Mandela was present to observe arguably the sporting world's most gargantuan event, the kick-off signalled by the whistle of English referee Howard Webb, who would play an active role in the first period.
Robin van Persie's foul on Sergio Busquets in the first minute was indicative of Holland's beginning to the encounter as they went about pressing their opponents robustly. But Spain were unruffled and the on-fire David Villa threatened to break clear on three minutes only to be flagged offside.
And it took the reigning European champions just five minutes to draw a fine stop from goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who was forced to get down to his right and parry clear following a powerful header from Sergio Ramos after Xavi had whipped in a free-kick from out wide. Gerard Pique was unable to turn home the rebound.
After yet more eager running from Villa, who was again called offside, a rare mistake in possession from the Spanish gifted Holland the ball. Busquets was sloppy as he tried to flick on a pass, and Dirk Kuyt looked to punish the holding midfielder. But the Liverpool forward's effort from distance was speculative and easy for Iker Casillas.
Spain continued to be very much on the front foot during the opening exchanges, with Holland seemingly dazed by the tiki-taka hypnosis. Ramos breezed past a heavy-footed Kuyt in the area before seeing his lash deflected out for a corner by the hopeful boot of Heitinga. Then, Villa thumped into the side-netting following a wicked cross by Xabi Alonso.
Referee Webb produced his first yellow card of the match on 15 minutes, cautioning Van Persie for a chop on Joan Capdevila. A minute later, Webb again brandished a booking, this time for Carles Puyol for a scythe from behind on so far quiet Arjen Robben.
Wesley Sneijder's stinging free-kick which whistled down the throat of Casillas sparked respite for the Dutch, as moments later Robben won his team's first corner. But in the 22nd minute, the fouling resumed. First, the sometimes invisible Mark van Bommel was rightly carded for a horrid foul on Iniesta before Ramos joined him in Webb's notepad.
Cue another brutish incident in the 28th minute, with De Jong the culprit. The Manchester City enforcer dangled a high boot and his studs slammed into the chest of Alonso. A yellow was the fortunate outcome with Alonso lucky to escape sustaining a broken rib.
Quite the astonishing scare for Spain occurred on 34 minutes. As Holland sportingly pumped possession back goalwards to Casillas, the shot-stopper misjudged the ball's bounce as it skipped off the turf and threatened to drop in, with Casillas forced to stretch and flick out for a corner before swallowing to push his heart back from his throat to where it belongs.
Robben began to impose himself on the encounter as his dribbling caused problems. His running partly led to a corner which was played short and then knocked square. Joris Mathijsen swiped wildly to spin the ball hopelessly wide. Then, up the other end, Pedro darted forwards and skimmed off target with his left boot.
After Van Bommel continued to play devil's advocate as he clattered into Xavi, a fractured first 45 minutes drew to a close, but not before a typical left-footer from Robben called Casillas into action as the keeper pushed away from danger.
The second half started brightly. After Robben almost found Van Persie, Spain found their rhythm which earned them a corner. In it came and semi-final goalscorer Puyol glanced a header across goal, Capdevila looked to turn the ball home but could not adjust in time.
Robben let fire with another trademark cut-in from the right channel but it was routine for Casillas. The game then began to open up, but the bookings also continued to rain down. Dutch skipper Giovanni Van Bronckhorst was carded for blocking off an opponent before Heitinga was given a yellow for catching Villa.
Del Bosque was the first of the two managers to make a substitution. The Spain head coach opted to bring on Jesus Navas for Pedro in the 60th minute. But it was the Dutch who were next to threaten as Van Persie's header floated off target following a Kuyt cross.
Then came the chance of the final thus far. Sneijder wonderfully threaded through Robben, who burst in on the exposed Casillas. Robben waited and waited for Casillas to commit before striking, only to see his effort clip off the dangling leg of the keeper, who deserves many plaudits for the stop.
Navas proved a decent introduction by Del Bosque as his liveliness on the right wing caused issues for Holland. Indeed, after Capdevila received the eighth yellow card of the game, in the 70th minute Navas drilled across goal. The ball was only half-cleared, as Villa pounced from close range, but Heitinga made the most vital of blocks to deny the striker.
Holland boss Van Marwijk acted with 19 minutes remaining, throwing on his own pacey wideman in Elijero Elia for Kuyt. But Spain had their tails up. A glorious passing move involving Xavi and Villa, the latter's shot charged down by Van der Wiel. Then came Spain's best chance.
On 77 minutes a curling corner found a completely unmarked Ramos. Yet from just seven yards out the Real Madrid defender planted his header over the bar to mark an astonishing miss. Meanwhile, the bitty nature of the clash failed to die down as an altercation between the hot-headed Van Bommel and Iniesta almost boiled over.
As the tension rose, Sneijder made a crucial intervention when he slid to snatch the ball away from Iniesta. Moments later, Robben's pace through the middle again caused problems with Puyol laboured. But, despite having the opportunity to go down under a Puyol challenge, Robben eventually lost possession as Casillas gathered. Robben was subsequently booked for protesting.
With four minutes remaining, Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas entered the fray in place of Alonso. The alteration, however, failed to prevent the fixture reaching extra-time, with Robben and Ramos both left to reflect on what might have been following their respective clear-cut opportunities.
Three minutes into the first period of extra-time, Spain had appeals for a penalty rightly turned down by Webb, who judged that Xavi kicked into Heitinga when in the area. Two minutes after said claims, Fabregas was sent clean through following a super Iniesta pass, but his stab at goal was well saved by the foot of Stekelenburg.
Then it was Holland's chance to come close. Casillas was left in no man's land as Mathijsen rose, but the defender's header flashed over the bar despite the goal gaping. And twice in the space of two minutes, Van Bronckhorst was Holland's hero as he shut out Iniesta then deflected Navas' strike wide.
A driving run and strike past the post from Fabregas then followed before Van Bronckhorst, making his last international appearance, was replaced by Edson Braafheid to mark the end of the first extra-time period. Spain's final change was to send on Torres for the five-goal Villa.
In the 19th minute of extra-time, Holland were reduced to 10 men after Heitinga received a second booking for pulling on Iniesta's shoulder. And with four minutes remaining, Spain scored the goal that won them the 2010 World Cup.
Fabregas slipped a pass to his right, and waiting was Iniesta. The Barcelona schemer took one touch before planting the ball past Stekelenburg with aplomb, sparking delirium from the Spanish players as they completed their mission for world domination.
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||4|
|8||Shots off Target||13|
England must be the laughing stock of football first our footballers then we have the clown webb who cannot control the world cup final
Posted 18:56 12th July 2010
After listening to all the complaints about refs. The players are to blame themselves as the diving and rolling about to try and get players sent off make decisions very difficult for refs. If the players were half as good at football as their theatrical perfomances it would have been great match
Posted 18:37 12th July 2010
Having watched the game twice, yes I am a glutton for punishment, I cannot understand why the Dutch coach blamed Howard Webb for them not winning the World Cup. Did he blame Robben for missing the one to one with the keeper? No, did he blame David Villa? No. Everyone blames the ref for them not winning the game, The fact is that Holland didn't win the game because they didn't put the ball in the net simple as that. The Dutch coach didn't agree with some decisions given by Howard Webb, who I thought Refereed the game very well and all the bookings were justified as well as the sending off. Did the Dutch coach blame his forwards and midfield for not scoring? No. Its all to easy to say the Ref cost us the game, your own team cost you the game for not scoring, You thought you could bully your way through the final but you met your match in A very good Referee Howard Webb.
Posted 17:33 12th July 2010
Did anybody noitice that the clear corner kick decision after the sneijder free kick in the 115th minute led to the spain counter attack. Also i think Elia was fouled right outside the box
Posted 17:09 12th July 2010
I was at the game.In my opinion,it was an horrible advert for football.It had no class & no skill.
Posted 14:03 12th July 2010
Spain were the most creative team alright, I have never seen a football team play act as much as them. A couple of Dutch tackles were reckless but I dont blame them for getting stuck into the Spanish players, if your at risk of getting booked every time you try tackling a squealing diver then you may as well give it your all. Replacing Kuyt was a mistake by the Dutch coach and Robbens failure to act like the Spanish and go down under a foul by Puyol was an important moment, that says alot about the state of world football. Howard Webb did the best he could and considering the poor state of the game at present with so much cynical tackling and simulation its no surprise that we finish on a sour note. The players should carry most of the blame.
Posted 11:09 12th July 2010
Having watched the game for a second time, I'm not too sure either set of players can have any complaints about Howard Webbs performance or the outcome of the game. If you watch carefully there are 3 players that don't complain about most of the tackles. These 3 being Robin Van Persie, Johnny Heitinger & Fernando Torres why? Because they play in the big boys league, every other player plays in the european leagues where if you raise you foot more than an inch of the floor to one of the so called stars you get a free kick. In the Premier League football is played how it is suppose to be played free flowing, not falling over (well too much) and not surrounding the referee. I'd love to see the likes of Iniesta, Messi, Xavi & Co in the premier league for a week. They couldn't handle it.
Posted 11:07 12th July 2010
I am baffled as to what people think Howard Webb should have done differently. Yes, the deflected freekick should have been a corner and maybe there was a freekick for obstruction in the run up to the goal but those two were the main things he missed. I agreed with all of his bookings. If anything he was too lenient. Van Bommel and De Jong should both have been sent off but what would that have done to the spectacle? I also found it strange that Robben decided to stay on his feet for the first time in his career the World Cup final. Iniesta may have gone down a little easy but the Dutch made it very difficult for Webb to not give freekicks everytime as they dove in with reckless abandon
Posted 10:54 12th July 2010
Peter McClaren! The leading and winning goal was lead by the Spanish obstructing Elia and Holland should have had a freekick it didnt lead to the corner that was way before that had happened that was in normal play or the 1st half of extra-time. Holland should have had a clear freekick when Ramos or Puyol obstructed Eljero Elia bursting down the left hand channel and cutting inside the box before he was taken out by the spanish player only for Mr Webb to mysteriously wave play on and for Spain to counter-attack and score the only and winning goal. I thought Andres Iniesta was first in an offside position before he managed to get back into an onside position for me how the ref or the linesman couldnt see that Iniesta was first initially in an offside position is unfathomable what a joke and you call Mr. Webb one of the best refs in the tournament an absolute diabolical ref to say the least. He was in favour of Spain and you could clearly see that. I am not a big fan of the dutch but I certainly wanted them to beat the cheating team of all time Spain. I have hated Spain even more throughout the tournament I think the team who deserved to get to the final without a shadow of a doubt was and should have been Germany. Played the best football the youngster smashed up Australia smashed up England and mauled Argentina dont you call them quite good footballing teams. The Germans in that game made Argentina look rubbish and everyone knows Argentina are good. Argentina couldnt even score a goal with the likes of Messi, Tevez, Higuain, Di Maria Mascherano etc whereas England at least scored 2 goals against them whether England would have won is a completely different story. Argentina didnt score any goals with all those good players. I have to say Spain had a mediocre group and should have comfortably won the group started losing to Switzerland beat marginally Honduras and beat marginally Chile.
Posted 10:40 12th July 2010
Some of the people on here are ludicrous ! The final only took off half way through the 2nd half. Some exciting moments but some crazy tackling and was irritating to see Spanish players showing the ref the "give him a card" gesture. Thought the ref was not the best and he has flopped many times before. He is way Overated ! That ref from Belgium was the best of the tournament and should have got the nod instead. Considering everything, you can't argue that Spain are worthy winners !!!
Posted 10:33 12th July 2010
Man of the Match was Howard Webb !!!! He could have (and perhaps should have) reduced the sides to 10 Vs 8 ! That would have produced a poor spectacle and the blame has to lie with the players. The Dutch side reminded me of the 1975 Leeds team !! - but without the guile, desire and passion. Well done Spain BUT very well done Howard Webb !!!
Posted 10:26 12th July 2010
Robben, havent read all the comments but I feel like the only one who dislikes him!! sure talented but why is he the only one being played forward? he ruined Van Persie's game as a forward and what he added as a player, he took away as a team going forward. Snejider was much less present once Robben was playing as was Kuyt. The Dutch team were better before Robben came back. He made a great impact as a sub but took too much focus and hogged the ball ignoring oppertunities throught his tornament perfering to go it alone. I mean look at it this way, how many assists did he get? He lost the world cup for me. That said, a brilliant game by spain and a fantastic goal. Sad to say but they deserved to win. Id also place Uraguay second on performance.
Posted 10:26 12th July 2010
Very dirty play from Holland. Did Van Bommel make a deal with the devil? How on earth he didn't get more bookings in the world cup is beyond me. And De Yong is terribly lucky to have not been sent off for that disgraceful kick to Xabi Alonso's chest. I like Holland a lot. Robben is second to none. For me, in the World Cup he is what Messi is during league play, an absolute nightmare to defend. Holland had wonderful chances to put the ball in the back of the net, but couldn't capitalize. I'm happy for Spain. And at the same time, I am sad at the way Holland played. I feel they tarnished their image with their shameless tackles (if you can call them tackles). I am also aware that Spain got away with some flops, but none so disgraceful as Robben's I thought. Man alive.
Posted 10:23 12th July 2010
I fear for football as a sport, a policeman referee's a world cup final but is so inconsistent with his decisions. A dutch player gets booked for pulling a player back (not last man) 2nd booking means sending off yet earlier in the game Puyol pulls back Robben (having already been booked and also last man) but Webb (the so called best referee in the world available to referee the final) fails to take action as he waved play on and Robben's chance was blocked by the keeper. Robben gets booked for remonstrating with the ref, a short while later there were three spanish players strongly remonstrated with Webb as they thought they should be awarded a penalty (athough as TV evidence shows Webb actually got this decision right ) Webb failed to book any spanish player for this. Webb then fails to apply the laws of the game when Robben (already booked for remonstrating) was flagged offside but still kicks the ball into an empty net, the laws of the game say that Robben should have been booked. These totally contrasting views stink not to mention a player staying on the pitch for what looked like a karate kick, a dutch player booked for a late challenge even though TV evidence shows the officials missed it and reacted to the spaniards rolling about antics, he also booked a dutch player for a foul when once again TV evidence proves there was no contact and no foul, then comes the big talking point how can all the officials not be watcing the game from a dead ball situation, i can understand officials getting it wrong if a ball does not deviate from its path after a deflection but when a ball travels 10 yards one way then deviates so much witout the officials noticing then they are not competent officials for the game. I for one would hope that a policeman would be honest, does honesty come into it when refereeing the world cup final?
Posted 10:09 12th July 2010
How can the Dutch have the nerve to boo Howard Webb!!! He was the reason you were still in the game after 115 minutes. If you want someone to blame, blame Robben for missing a sitter, blame your back four for not defending the goal properly and blame your manager for completely changing your tactics because he was so frightened of the Spanish.
Posted 10:04 12th July 2010
I went into this game a neutral, hopin for great football... instead i was greeted with consistent spanish diving and cheating.. it's digraceful to the game. Holland had their moment of dirty fouling.. but that is football, diving isnt.. influencing the game is shocking and after every game there should be a panel to hand out bans to these players. What made this worse was when Iniesta and Puyol were waving their hands to give out cards.. If you can't win with 11 players on the field and feel you need someone sent off to win, the you certainly are not the best team in the world. Poor show spain!
Posted 10:03 12th July 2010
I have watched at least 15 world cup finals in my time,and this was the most boring most negative of all of them.The opening group games were the worst because the priority was to avoid defeat rather than going out to win.Perhaps 4 points should be awarded for winning your opening game
Posted 09:58 12th July 2010
The reason Holland got so many bookings is because every time they went near a Spanish player he fell over and rolled around on the ground. At the start of this match I wanted Spain to win but I wasn't long changing my mind. Yes, there were some bad tackles from Holland, and the players were rightly booked. There was also a lot of fouling from the Spanish players and yes the DUTCH players were booked. Everyone was saying after the match that it was best for football that Spain won and that they set a perfect example for our young players to follow. Well I'm sorry, but I do not want my son to grow up thinking that it is okay to dive and that the best way to win is to cheat. The Dutch may have been physical but at least they never pretended to be anything else. All the Spanish did was fall down and look for Dutch players to be booked. Not an example I want to see children follow
Posted 09:46 12th July 2010
This was a World Cup Final after all, sometimes you get a game of chess!! Was a good game. Two well matched teams. Why should people expect Holland to let Spain play tiki-taka and easily win the game. Holland got their tactics spot on and could have won it. Howard Webb had a good game, didn't miss much and gave cards out when he had to. Van Bommel, while not being in the world class category of Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso is still a hell of a player and broke up the Spain play like he was asked to. Like I said at the beginning teams don't roll over in a World Cup Final!!
Posted 09:36 12th July 2010
Both sets of players were a disgrace. Probably one team more then the other but you can't blame the ref for the attitudes on the pitch. I actually felt sorry for Webb. It would not have mattered who the ref was last night, we would still be talking about the same game. He did his best to keep players on the pitch because there should have been more then one red card. Robben kicking the ball away in extra time is normally a yellow and Webb ran to him with Spanish players all around knowing he gave him a yellow already and would have to send him off and he didn't. I for one do not want to see a player sent off in the world cup final for kicking a ball away. As much as I'm sure it's painful for the Dutch, I believe the tone of the match was set by them and the Spanish had to respond. The reputation built up throughout the World Cup mainly due to the actions of Van Bommel and De Jong have ultimately cost them in the end. I'm happy that Spain won. Could you imagine if the Dutch were world champions after a display of thuggery like that. It would be the death of football.
Posted 09:35 12th July 2010
Two bloggers out in South Africa, another 32 following a nation each... welcome to World Cup FanZone.