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Sport

Iniesta fires Spain to historic World Cup win

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-07-12

Spain take football’s ultimate prize home after defeating the Netherlands 1–0 in a tense final littered with yellow cards.

Spain emerged as World Cup champions on Sunday after a bad-tempered final win over the Netherlands.

In a tense match marred by numerous yellow cards and questionable refereeing decisions, Andres Iniesta dramatically propelled his team to World Cup glory, and a historic first for Spain, with the only goal in the 116th minute of extra time.
 
"THEY MADE HISTORY"
La Roja are now not only European champions after their win in 2008 but world champions, only the third team in history to achieve this feat.
 
For the Spanish team this victory has been a long time coming. In the 19 World Cups since the competition’s inception in 1930, the team had never done better than a fourth-place finish in 1950. 
 
Spain confiscate the ball
 
True to form, Spain soon dominated possession in Johannesburg's Soccer City. The Netherlands looked nervous, lacked rhythm, and struggled to make a mark.
 
English referee Howard Webb handed five yellow cards to the Dutch at the start of the match, an indication of just how frayed were the nerves of the players as they battled for final victory.
 
"THEY'RE GOING TO WAIT FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER FOUR YEARS"
So often the lead villain, Mark Van Bommel was surpassed for once by teammate Nigel De Jong, who should have been sent off after 27 minutes for burying his studds in Xabi Alonso's chest.
 
The first half ended goalless as the Dutch succeeded in breaking down Spain's passing game with some ruthless tackling.
 
As the second half got under way and with vuvuzelas blaring round the stadium, the Spanish came out flying, winning a corner in the opening minutes.
 
Once again, foul play halted the Spanish onslaught, as the Netherlands' Giovanni van Bronckhorst was booked for sticking his arm out and blocking Sergio Ramos just in front of the Dutch goal. Xavi took the free kick but his shot was wide.
 
The bad-tempered, yellow-card-littered match limped to the end of normal time, prolonging the agony of Spanish and Dutch fans.
 
A red card at last
 
As extra time got under way, the Spanish once again created the most chances, with substitute Cesc Fabregas in particular tearing down the opponents' midfield. But a solid Dutch defence – and a bit of luck – saw off Spain's attacks.
 
With just 11 minutes to go and the match seemingly headed for a penalty shoot-out, the Netherland’s John Heitinga received his second yellow card of the night after pulling down goal-bound Iniesta. Heitinga was promptly sent off, leaving the Dutch down to 10 men.
 
Seven minutes later, Spain finally broke the stalemate. Torres fired a cross into the box which Fabregas picked up and passed to Iniesta. The Barcelona player then took one touch and volleyed the ball past Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to ultimately hand the trophy to a worthy Spanish team.

The much-trumpeted showdown between the two exponents of "total football" had produced an underwhelming finale to an otherwise enthralling tournament. But, mercifully, the better team had won, kicking off an all-night fiesta for fans across Spain.

Date created : 2010-07-12

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