July 12, 2010

Spain Are The Champion

Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta's nerveless finish in extra time delivered a knockout blow to Netherlands in a bruising final to clinch a 1-0 win and their first World Cup triumph at the first African finals.
With a shootout looming, the peerless Iniesta controlled a ball from substitute Cesc Fabregas four minutes from time and found the coolness that had eluded forwards on both sides to fire the ball past the helpless Maarten Stekelenburg.
The Dutch, who ran fuming to referee Howard Webb convinced the goal was illegal on at least two counts, were already down to 10 men following John Heitinga's red card seven minutes earlier and there was little realistic hope of a comeback.
Spain succeeded in keeping their opponents at arm's length and their players wept with joy as they celebrated becoming the first European team to win the World Cup on another continent and the first to triumph after losing their opening game.
"Euphoria, joy, everything positive," Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso told reporters. "The only thing that counts in finals is to win them."
There followed a firework celebration but the soccer itself had fizzled rather than sparkled as Spain became the lowest scoring team to win the World Cup.
They managed only eight goals in their seven games -- three fewer than the previous lowest total in a winning campaign.
For the Dutch, who knocked Spain out of their cultured stride for long periods and should have taken the lead with one glorious chance for Arjen Robben in the second half of normal time, defeat was an all too familiar disappointment.
While Spain were triumphant in their first final, the Dutch have now lost three, following defeats in 1974 and 1978.