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Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain is World Champion of FIFA World Cup 2010...!

spain world champions

Spain - The World Champions

Champions of Europe and now champions of the world, Spain captured football's Holy Grail for the first time with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands thanks to Andres Iniesta’s 116th-minute strike at Soccer City.



The solitary goal came with penalties looming as substitutes Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas combined to play in Iniesta and the little Barcelona midfielder drove emphatically across Maarten Stekelenburg and into the far corner. With this victory – their fourth successive single-goal win in South Africa – Spain became the eighth name on the FIFA World Cup™ Trophy and also the first European team to have triumphed on a different continent. For the Netherlands, who lost defender John Heitinga to a red card in extra time, there is only the heartache of another tale of what might have been after completing a hat-trick of Final losses.


fifa world cup final
  
This was a match preceded by much talk of two like-minded footballing cultures, of the influence of Dutchmen like Johan Cruyff and Rinus Michels on Barcelona, of 'tiki taka' and Total Football. In many ways, as the first 116 minutes showed, it was also a case of the irresistible force versus the immovable object. The Dutch had won 14 straight games to get to the Final, in qualifying and the tournament proper, and Spain 15 out of 16, their only slip the defeat by Switzerland in their first game here in South Africa.




 
Puyol, Spain's semi-final matchwinner, showed his aerial threat once more minutes after the restart when he rose above Heitinga and headed to the far post but Joan Capdevila failed to make contact. The game was gradually opening up and Dutch spurned a golden opportunity in the 62nd minute when Wesley Sneijder sent Robben running clear. Casillas came to Spain’s rescue, deflecting the shot behind with his right foot when falling the wrong way.

Spain coach Del Bosque had already sent on Jesus Navas for Pedro on the hour and the winger helped pick a hole in the Dutch defence in the 70th minute. Xavi sent him flying down the right and into the box and when Heitinga failed to deal with Navas’s low cross, the ball fell to Villa who looked odds-on to score only to see his effort deflected behind. Ramos was equally profligate after 78 minutes when he headed over a Xavi centre when unmarked, after Villa had forced another corner.




  
Spain were looking the more likely winners and it took Sneijder of all people to foil Iniesta with a smart tackle after his jinking run into the box. Yet Robben’s pace is a persistent threat and the Oranje No11 almost embarrassed Puyol in the 82nd minute, speeding clear of the Spain defender when second-favourite to reach a through-ball. Resisting Pique’s attempt to tackle too, he was foiled only by Casillas, the captain saving at Robben’s feet as the Dutchman sought to round him.

Extra time began with opportunities for Spain. Xavi failed to connect when well positioned and when the ball ran to Villa, his shot went wide off an orange shirt. Substitute Cesc Fabregas then broke clear on to Iniesta’s through-ball but was foiled by Stekelenburg. Mathijsen headed wide from a corner but like waves, Spanish attacks kept rolling on to the Netherlands back line and Navas was close with a shot deflected into the side-netting.

Fernando Torres replaced Villa midway through the extra period and Spain gained a man advantage four minutes late with Heitinga’s dismissal for pulling back Iniesta on the edge of the box, the offence earning him a second yellow. Iniesta would not be denied, however, as his late strike put Spain in the history books and shattered the men in Oranje.


  
  
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