Spain beat Dutch to capture first World Cup title

Sunday, July 11, 2010

JOHANNESBURG - Andres Iniesta’s goal late in extra time guided Spain to a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands Sunday and their first ever World Cup title.

Barcelona star Iniesta, who was named Man of the Match, scored the title-winning goal in the 116th minute front of 84,490 spectators at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.

Netherlands defender John Heitinga was sent off in the 109th minute of a bad tempered game which saw English referee Howard Webb book another 12 players, a World Cup record.

La Roja became the eighth world champion in World Cup history joining Brazil, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, England and France.

Spain, whose best previous finish was fourth place in 1950, became the second nation to follow a European Championship title with the World Cup crown. West Germany accomplished the feat in 1974.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, lost their third World Cup final after dropping the finals in 1974 and 1978.

The Dutch squad often relied on robust tackling, picking up eight cautions to four for Spain.

“It was a hard-fought game, but we’ve got great players. We could have scored another goal or two. It was a well-deserved victory and a very happy day for me,” said Spain coast Vicente del Bosque

The coach trusted the same line-up that beat Germany 1-0, meaning that out-of-form striker Fernando Torres remained on the bench in favour of Pedro.

Dutch boss Bert van Marwijk once again had his full squad with Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong returning after suspension against Uruguay. Heading to the bench were Khalid Boulahrouz and Demy de Zeeuw.

The first chance came after less than five minutes with David Villa’s free kick finding Sergio Ramos for a header at the spot which Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg did a fine job to push away for a corner.

Spain keeper Iker Casillas was first tested in the 18th minute, corralling Wesley Sneijder’s long free kick blast.

The Netherlands were lucky to have 11 men of the pitch in the 28th minute as de Jong kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest but referee Howard Webb only warned de Jong with yellow.

The Netherlands missed a golden chance in the 62nd minute. Sneijder fed a through ball to Arjen Robben for a one-on-one against Casillas, but the Real Madrid keeper just barely got his foot on Robben’s attempt to deflect it wide left.

Spain somehow failed to hit the scoreboard in the 69th minute as Heitinga mis-hit a clearance attempt to Villa but the Everton defender blocked Villa’s attempt from near range.

Ramos again was just off target with a header off a corner in the 77th minute from just six yards out.

Robben was again one-on-one against Casillas, fending off Puyol but unable to get past the Spanish captain in the 83rd minute.

Five minutes into extra time Spain had a two-on-one but Cesc Fabregas was stopped by Stekelenburg despite Villa being open to his right.

Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst saved another top Spain chance four minutes later, fending of Andres Iniesta’s attempt. And van Bronckhorst deflected Jesus Navas’s shot in the 101st to the side netting.

Referee Webb sent off the Netherlands defender Heitinga in the 109th minute for a second booking on his tackle on Iniesta.

The Barcelona midfielder scored the only goal of the game in the 116th minute. Fabregas’ pass through the Dutch defence found Iniesta, who blasted into the far left corner for his second goal of the World Cup and his eighth of his Spanish career.

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