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MotM = Andrés INIESTA (ESP)

Andrés INIESTA 116’


Ref = Howard WEBB (ENG)

Johannesburg – JSC

SPAIN won their first World Cup last night with a 1-0 extra-time win over the Netherlands, who taste bitter defeat in the Final for a third time.

The Spanish exploded out of the starting blocks as they went for an early goal. Sergio Ramos had a close-range header saved less than five minutes in and David Villa hit the side netting soon after.

Dutch number eight Nigel de Jong was lucky not to have been sent-off when he kicked XABI ALONSO in the chest. Mark van Bommel (Netherlands) was also lucky to still be on the pitch in the first half.

Netherlands finished the first 45 minutes the stronger side, and continued with that momentum when the game restarted. Spain did up their game, but had captain Iker Casillas to thank when he saved a shot from Arjen Robben with his leg after the Dutchman and he went one-on-one.

It was now Spain’s turn to have the most of the game. Villa saw his close-range effort cleared away from goal and Ramos this time headed over when he should’ve scored. Robben then tried his luck again at the other end of the pitch, and again Casillas got in his way.

The second half also saw both number sixes, van Bommel and Andrés Iniesta nearly have a fight, but I’d call it handbags at ten paces.

With the score at 0-0 after 90 minutes, we went into extra-time.

Cesc Fábregas had two great chances to give Spain the lead, but one was saved by Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg and the other went wide. Team-mate Jesús Navas almost scored in the first period of extra-time as well but his shot was deflected into the side netting by Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst in his last ever game.

In the second period of extra-time both sides well and truly went for it. Nobody wanted penalties like the 2006 Final. What was already a bad tempered game boiled over when English ref Howard Webb gave a second yellow card to Dutchman John Heitinga.

With just four minutes left, Spain tore into the Dutch half of the pitch, and Iniesta smashed the ball into the goal from the resulting attack. Spain held on for the last few minutes to become World Champions for the very first time.

This was a brutal game of football, but wasn’t the classic I was expecting it to be. The Dutch seemed to think that they could literally break Spain down. Neither side gave English ref Howard Webb an easy game, but he did the very best job he could under the circumstances. All in all, the best (and right) team won.

This Final saw a number of firsts for the World Cup, and here they are:

  • The first Final since 1978 (Argentina vs. Netherlands) with two teams who had never previously won the title.
  • The first ever Final not to have either: Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina in it.
  • Spain becomes the first European side to win the World Cup outside of Europe.
  • The first time that two different European sides have won the World Cup consecutively: (Italy 2006, Spain 2010). The previous occasion Europe won the World Cup back-to-back was with Italy in 1934 and 1938.
  • Spain also becomes the first team to have lost their opening game (0-1 to Switzerland) and then go on to win the World Cup.

Some other notable records are:

  • This was the first World Cup that saw both of the previous finalists (Italy and France) eliminated in the groups. They both finished bottom of their groups.
  • The Final saw a record 14 yellow cards with one red.
  • Spain scored the fewest ever amount of goals by the Champions with just eight. They only let in two, tying with France in 1998 and Italy in 2006.

Zakumi: “Congratulations Spain on winning your first ever World Cup.”

P92: “I echo that. Tomorrow you will be able to see the FIFA awards for players and teams, and my own special awards along with them.”

Zakumi: “I can’t wait for that.”

P92: “Me neither.”

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