Andres Iniesta’s strike in the 116th minute broke the deadlock in a scrappy World Cup final this evening that saw 13 players booked and Johnny Heitinga sent off.
There were few opportunities in a cagey first half. Sergio Ramos had a header saved by Maarten Stekelenburg in an ill-tempered first half. Mark van Bommel fortunately only to receive one yellow card for several cynical first half fouls. Nigel de Jong surprisingly only received the same colour for a karate kid on Xabi Alonso.
Clearer cut chances came in the second half, albeit few and far between. Arjen Robben was denied one-on-one by the outstretched leg of Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal. David Villa was later denied a few yards out by Johnny Heitinga. David Villa’s failure to score in this game left him joint top scorer with Thomas Muller, Diego Forlan and Wesley Sneijder this year, leaving two of my bets settled by dead heat rules and therefore making my profits minimal.
Carles Puyol gave Arjen Robben the chance to go down outside the area as the Bayern Munich winger raced towards goal. For once, he stayed on his feet and Iker Casillas took the ball away from his feet. Sergio Ramos missed a free header from a corner with quarter of an hour remaining.
It wasn’t the easiest game to referee and Howard Webb done his best not to spoil the World Cup final with an early sending off. He had no choice when Johnny Heitinga tugged back Andres Iniesta when about to go through on goal in extra time. The fifth player to be sent off in a World Cup final. And unlike Marcel Desailly, he wasn’t going to end up a winner.
Cesc Fabregas had earlier missed a one-on-one, but he took in Fernando Torres’ poorly cut out cross and set up Andres Iniesta who smashed home the winner with 4 minutes remaining. The stadium erupted as Iniesta was buried beneath his team mates in celebration. The Netherlands never came close after.. There was bad news for Fernando Torres as he appeared to tear his hamstring in the final minute.
Far from a classic final, the one positive to come out of this match was how tight and tense it was. Football prevailed from this one, as Spain one of the most exciting teams in the tournament came out on top of the cynical Netherlands nation that tried preventing Spain from playing with foul after foul.
Credit to both coaches, especially Vicente del Bosque who guided his nation to success, as he did with Real Madrid before being harshly sacked. He never panicked after their opening round defeat and his Spanish side wore down opponents, winning every knock out game 1-0.
Spain become the eighth different nation to win the World Cup and only the third nation to hold both the World Cup and European Championship trophies at the same time, following West Germany and France.