World Cup post-game: Spain 1, Netherlands 0 (ET)
Andres Iniesta's goal in the 116th minute gave Spain its first FIFA World Cup title with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands Sunday in Johannesburg.
It was not a classic final by any means, but it was dramatic and in the end it was decided by the slimmest of margins.
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Whether it was a matter of both teams trying to assert themselves or pure nerves, Sunday's final was not the kind of soccer you would expect of two nations known for playing beautiful, fluid football.
Instead it was a scrappy, testy match where neither team had space to produce mesmerizing soccer due to smothering defending and, at times, punishing tackles.
Referee Howard Webb was arguably the busiest man on the pitch, handing out a finals-record 13 yellow cards (eight to the Netherlands and five to Spain), which was not really a surprise considering how many fouls were committed during the course of the game (28 fouls for the Netherlands to 19 for Spain).
There were chances for both sides in this game. The Oranje's most dangerous player, Arjen Robben, was stopped on a breakaway by Spanish keeper Iker Casillas in the 62nd minute. In the 77th minute, Sergio Ramos should have put the Spaniards ahead, but his open header off a corner kick sailed over the crossbar.
Iniesta's deciding marker in the second extra time period crushed the hearts of the thousands of orange-clad Dutch supporters at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg who thought that, maybe, this was their country's year, especially after they had gone through the tournament undefeated.
With the victory, Vincente del Bosque's club is finally able to shake its "choker" label and celebrate the sport's most coveted prize, one that eluded such Spanish greats as Ricardo Zamora, Emilio Butragueno, Andoni Zubizarreta and Raul.
The Netherlands now owns the dubious distinction of having more victories in World Cup games(19) without a title. Spain had held that record with 24.
What this result means
After years of underachieving on soccer's biggest stage, the wait is finally over for Spain. La Furia Roja finally join the brotherhood of World Cup winners alongside Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy and Uruguay as countries to have raised the storied golden trophy.
Spain becomes the first nation since West Germany in 1974 to hold both the European championship and World Cup title simultaneously.
The Netherlands leave the tournament as runners-up for the third time, joining the great 1974 and 1978 sides as World Cup bridesmaids.
The winning goal
With the Netherlands down to 10 men after stalwart fullback John Heitinga collected his second yellow card of the match, Spain poured the pressure on. The Dutch defence couldn't clear a cross from substitute Fernando Torres at the top of the 18-yard box and the ball popped out to Cesc Fàbregas. He deftly slipped the ball through to Iniesta, who fired a strike past the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
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Man of the match
Iniesta not only scored the winning goal, but he was the engine in the Spanish midfield. As he has been all tournament, the Barcelona star was displaying his supreme skill, spraying beautiful passes to his teammates and aggravating opponents with his quick footwork.
The Spanish perspective
"We have all done an incredible job. I don't think we even realize what we have done." — midfielder Andrés Iniesta.
The Dutch perspective
"It's so frustrating, I'm totally gutted. We were so close to winning the World Cup, and we had chances too. But you've got to take your chances. That aside, Spain are a terrific team." — forward Dirk Kuyt