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Date: 16 December 2018

  World - Soccer


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And the 2010 World Cup winner....Espanyol!

[Posted 12 Jul 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Hail the New Champions fr the 1st time-Spain!

South Africa

Spain's creative midfielder Andres Iniesta condemned Netherlands to a third successive World Cup final agony with a well-taken 116th minute  strike to give Spain their first ever World Cup trophy in 2010.

The Barcelona midfielder Iniesta lurched onto a pass from Cesc Fabregas  in the box to beat Maarten Stekelenburg on the near upright post during a tense match which spilled into extra time at the magnificent Soccer City Stadium. It was a thunderous close range shot which beat the Dutch keeper and ended an ill-tempered dramatic match of near-misses.

That the match would be tense was to be expected given what was at stake. Both teams were standing on the verge of making history by winning the World Cup trophy for their first time ever. Within the first 22 minutes, referee Howard Webb of England had already issued four yellow cards, and the 109th minute confirmed everybody's fears when John Heitinga was sent off for a second-bookable offence, which was the 14th yellow card of this tense encounter. The writing was on the wall that someone would receive his marching orders given the bad temper which punctuated much of the play at Soccer City. 

The Dutch have now suffered the agony of coming so close, yet so far from lifting their first world cup trophy. They reached the finals of the world cup in 1974 and 1978, losing on both occasions to West Germany and Argentina 1-2 and 1-3 respectively.

The grand finale whose significance was underscored by the rare appearance of South African former President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, did not provide the expected sparks in the opening 45 minutes. Both teams disturbed each other's normal type of play, even though the Spaniards went to Half time with a ball possession of 57% in their favour. Not that it was surprising, but what was surprising was the lack of clear cut scoring opportunities from both teams. There was something to write home about when Sergio Ramos forced a save from Stekelenburg in the 5th minute during a period wherein Spain put the Dutch on the backfoot.

Tempers flared up early on in the match, and Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong received early bookings afte committing fouls on opponents.

Spanish defender Joan Capdevilla failed to make contact with a lovely Carles Puyol flick  after resumption of the match. 

Arjen Robben, clearly Holland's brightest hope for a goal in their subdued response to Spanish dominance, had the best chance of the match to put the Dutch ahead in the second half. He received a brilliant through ball which set him clear of defence from a rather quiet Wesley Sneidjer. Robben delayed to pull the trigger and allowed keeper Iker Casillas to block his strike with the slightest of touches from his right leg. That was such a close shave for Spain!

Robben came back to torment Puyol and company moments later, and after refusing to fall down under a Puyol challenge, which was a clear man-handling by the Barcelona captain, Robben stood his ground to try and go for goal, but Casillas collected the loose ball. Robben was furious with Webb for not awarding a penalty. And for all his troubles, he received a caution from the Englishman.

Spain dominated the game from that moment, and the introduction of Fabregas in the 87th minute swung the pendulum firmly in the Spaniards' favour. With Xavi's influence on the match increasing by each passing minute, the Dutch struggled to gain possession of the ball for some long periods. The Dutch made so many unforced errors when going forward, with Robin van Persie guilty of stray passes on more than two occasions.

The match was forced into extra time, and there were still few chances in the match. Joris Mathijsen came close to scoring for the Dutch but headed his effort over the cross bar. Moments later, Heitinga became only the fifth man to be sent off in a world cup final on the 109th minute. Seven minutes later Iniesta found the goal which seperated the two teams and handed Spain the crown for the first time. 

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