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Andrés Iniesta scored the match's only goal four minutes from penalty kicks, beating Maartin Stekelenburg into the left of goal to give Spain their first world title, 1-0 over the Netherlands in Johannesburg.
Iniesta took a pass to the right of goal from Cesc Fàbregas, who had put his teammate behind a Dutch line caught pushing-up and out of their penalty area. Stekelenburg came out to meet Iniesta and got a hand on the shot, but Iniesta's half volley from ten yards out gave Spain the lead.
By that time, the Netherlands was playing a man down, having John Heitinga sent-off in the 109th minute after the Dutch defender denied Iniesta a scoring opportunity.
It was the theme of the night for the Dutch, who accumulated nine bookings in 120 minutes.
While the fouls will overshadow the Dutch performance, the Netherlands had two chances to win the match in regulations, second half breakaways for Arjen Robben that were denied by Iker Casillas. The first breakaway, created by a brilliant 30-yard ball from Wesley Sneijder that split Gerard Piqué and Joan Capdevila, let to a shot deflected wide by the Spanish captain. The second chance, created by Robben taking advantage of a Carles Puyol error, was swallowed-up by Casillas when the Dutch attacker played a bad touch in an attempt to allude Piqué.
Robben's chances included, the match played out much like Spain's other knockout round contests. Spain dominated possession, holding the ball for 63 percent of the match, yet could not finish their chances, starting with Sergio Ramos's fifth minute header from within the penalty area that was saved by Stekelenburg. Spain had other good chances for Joan Capdevila, David Villa, and Cesc Fàbregas, with their best chance another header for Ramos, a chance off a corner from four yards out that the right back put over the bar.
Ultimately, Iniesta's goal insured the better team won the match, with Spain continuing a three year reign as the world's best team with their first World Cup.
Andres Iniesta has scored four minutes from the end of extra time, scoring with his right-footed shot from 14 yards out to given Spain a 1-0 lead to put the Spaniards on the verge of their first World Cup.
The Dutch, attempting to play Iniesta offside, allowed a ball to be looped over the back line, giving Iniesta time to collect the pass and beat Maarten Stekelenburg toward the Dutch goalie's far post.
Dutch defenders protested heavily that Iniesta was offside, earning Joris Mathijsen the Netherlands' ninth booking of the final. Replays showed Iniesta was onside when the pass was played.
Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez had since picked-up yellow cards for Spain.
The match reamins 1-0, now in the 122nd minute.
Dutch right back Gregory van der Wiel has been booked for taking down a Spanish attacker, becoming the seventh Dutch player to be booked in the final.
The Dutch have been shown a total of eight cards, now playing down a man after John Heitinga's 109th minute sending-off.
One-two play from Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez saw the latter put a ball behind the defense, with Iniesta set to blow past the defense for a open chance on goal. Central defender John Heitinga instead pulled Iniesta down at 19 yards out, earning a straight red card from Howard Webb.
Heitinga had already received a yellow card, early in the second half; however, with the denial of the scoring chance, Heitinga's second card goes down as a straight red, leaving the Dutch to play down a man for the final's last 11 minutes.
The Netherlands is out of substitutions and will play the rest of extra time with only three natural defenders.
Just minutes after Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk used his final substitution, Spain coach Vincente del Bosque has made his final move. Surprisingly, del Bosque has taken off David Villa and brought on Fernando Torres.
Torres was taken out of the starting team prior to the semifinal but is brought on in the 106th minute with the score 0-0.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst's career ends in the 105th minute of the World Cup final, the left back being subbed-off by coach Bert van Marwijk. Bayern Munich's Edson Braafheid replaced the captain, who will retire from soccer after today's match.
Rafael van der Vaart was given the captain's armband as van Bronckhorst went off.
The substitution was van Marwijk's final move of the match.
Van Bronckhorst had recently looked vulnerable to Spanish right win Jesus Navas, who had nearly scored just minutes prior to the substitution.
The match has now gone into the second half of extra time still drawn 0-0.
Right wing Jesus Navas, after being played the ball from the center of attack, as given room to get within 15 yards of goal in the right of the penalty area, eventually putting a deflected shot into the outside of the net in the 102nd minute.
Navas, a second half substitute, was given space by left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who stuck out a leg left to deflect the Navas attempt. The deflection, however, looked for a moment like it would allow Navas to beat a right-diving Maarten Stekelenburg to the near post. The ball, however, when two feet wide of the post, keeping the match scoreless.
The score remains 0-0 in the 106th minute.
Bert van Marwijk's second substitution is another offensive-minded one.
After bringing on Eljero Elia in regulation for Dirk Kuyt, the Netherland's coach has taken off defensive midfielder Nigel de Jong and brought on Rafael van der Vaart.
Van der Vaart, who plays his club football at Real Madrid, is an attack-minded player.
The match remains scoreless in the 102nd minute.
Cesc Fabregas was put through on goal by Andres Iniesta in the 94th minute, the midfielder's left footed shot from the goal's left, 16 yards out, saved by the left foot of a diving Maarten Stekelenburg, keeping Spain and the Netherlands even, 0-0.
Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas has denied two Arjen Robben breakaway chances, but the Stekelenburg save was the first time Spain had sent a player alone on goal.
On the counterattack, the Dutch were able to generate a corner kick, with Joris Mathijsen putting the resulting piece over the bar at the far post after he'd out-jumped right back Sergio Ramos.
Now in the 99th minute, the match is still scoreless.
Spain and the Netherlands are set for 30 minutes of extra time, having reached the end of 90 minutes drawn 0-0.
Arjen Robben had two breakaway chances for the Dutch, both snuffed-out by Iker Casillas.
Spain's best chances came from Sergio Ramos (header over the bar), David Villa (blocked from three yards out), and Joan Capdevila (missed the ball on a far-post attempt off a corner kick).
The second half started by continuing the yellow card theme of the first half, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst and John Heitinga picking up the Dutch's fifth and sixth cautions, Capdevila earning Spain's third. Although Robben would earn a card for dissent in the 86th minute, the match calmed-down half-way through the period.
Spain held 63 percent of the possession in the first half, though they were out-shot by the Dutch 4-2 (shots on goal).
It is the second consecutive final to go to extra time, with France and Italy ending 1-1 at Germany 2006.
Vincente del Bosque, in the 87th minute, used his second substitution, bringing in Cesc Fabregas for Xabi Alonso.
The move is an attacking one, with Alonso, who normally sits deep in the Spanish formation, brought-off for somebody who more commonly plays higher in attack.
The match is still scoreless in the 89th minute. If it remains drawn after second half stoppage time, a 30 minute extra period will be played.
Arjen Robben was left irate after no whistle from Howard Webb left the Dutch attacker's second breakaway chance of the match denied by Iker Casillas in the 84th minute.
Robben created the breakaway chance when Carles Puyol misjudged a ball, took a poor route while trying to chase it down, and allowed Arjen Robben to run around him an onto the ball. Puyol and partner Gerard Pique contested Robben enough for force a poor final touch as the attacker tried to avoid Pique, allowing an aggressive Iker Casillas to dive on the ball.
Robben ran back up the field screaming at referee Howard Webb to no avail. Replays did not show a foul committed.
The match remains scoreless in the 87th minute.
Sergio Ramos missed over-the-crossbar with a header from four yards out in the 77th minute, failing to convert a corner kick that could have given Spain the lead.
The right back fit the Xavi Hernandez cross with the top of his head after the Netherlands failed to make him in the six yard box.
It was Ramos's second close-range chance of the match, with a fifth minute opportunity off a dead ball saved by Maarten Stekelenburg.
The match remains scoreless in the 81st minute.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk's first substitution is an attacking one, with Eljero Elia being brought on for left wing Dirk Kuyt.
Elia is viewed as a pure attacking option, while Kuyt is looked upon as more of a two-way player.
The move, made in the 71st minute, was made with the match still scoreless.
David Villa was given the strongest Spain chance of the second half, in possession of the ball three yards out at Maarten Stekelenburg's right post, but the Spain attacker's chopped right footed shot was blocked by a sliding Dutch defender, with Stekelenburg apparently in position to make a diving save to his left.
Though Spain continues to control possession, holding 62 percent for the match, the Spaniards have only recorded two shots on goal.
Joan Capdevila has picked up a yellow card in the 67th minute, running into and taking down Robin van Persie as the Dutch forward attempted to break into attack down the right flank.
The card was Spain's third and the eighth of the match.
A brilliant, 30-yard ball from Wesley Sneijder in the 61st minute put Dutch right winger Arjen Robben in alone on Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas, but great place from Iker Casillas to come off his line and, eventually, deflect Robben shot wide of the `keeper's right post keeps the match scoreless.
Sneijder, just short of the center line, turned on a ball trapped with his chest and played a long pass with his right foot between Gerard Pique and Joan Capdevila. The Spain left back couldn't catch up to Robben, who tried to punch his shot into the left side of goal from 16 yards out.
Casillas's save maintained the 0-0 scoreless, a score that has been carried forward into the 69th minute.
Spain coach Vincente del Bosque has made the first change of the match, bringing on Jesus Navas for Pedro.
Pedro has been quiet since the first twenty minutes of the match. He comes off for Navas, who plays a somewhat traditional right wing role.
The match remains scoreless through 63 minutes.
John Heitinga has earned the Netherlands' fifth yellow card of the match in the World Cup final's 56th minute, the Dutch central defender taking-out David Villa along the right flank, going through the striker's left ankle was the Spaniard touched a pass back into midfield.
Spain has two yellow cards in the match. The Dutch have committed 15 fouls to Spain's nine.
The match remains scoreless though 59 minutes.
Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst took a smart yellow card in the match's 54th minute, having been beaten by Sergio Ramos on an attempted Spanish one-two, pulling the right back's jersey as Ramos attempted to go past.
The foul, which occurred 28 yards from goal, led to an innocuous direct kick chance that went out for a goal kick.
The match remains scoreless in the 57th minute.
Spain left back Joan Capdevila missed a ball at the far post on a corner kick, the defenders right foot swung late on a ball flicked from the near post by Carles Puyol, missing a chance at a goal guarded only by a Dutch player standing at the near post.
Xavi Hernandez delivered the corner on a line to the near post, with Puyol jumping over his mark to get a touch on to the far post. Capdevila was unmarked and had a chance to get his right foot on the ball but missed the opportunity to put Spain ahead in the 48th minute.
The match remains scoreless in the 52nd minute
Though the first half for the 2010 World Cup final ended scoreless, the first 45 minutes between the Netherlands and Spain was eventful, with referee Howard Webb going to his yellow card five times, all within the first 28 minutes.
Robin van Persie, committing his second card-able offense of the half, was yellow carded in the 15th minute for a sliding tackle on Spain left back Joan Capdevila. Earlier in the match, van Persie apparently went through the back of Sergio Busquets' left knee, drawing a foul but avoiding a card, with such an offense normally dealt with leniently in a match's opening moments.
Minutes later, Carles Puyol was given the match's second yellow card for a sliding challenge on Arjen Robben as the Dutch winger tried to make his way toward the middle of the pitch.
Mark van Bommel, five minutes later, drew yellow after sliding through Andres Iniesta from behind, Minutes later, Sergio Ramos became the second Spaniard carded after taking down an attacker along the defense's right.
But the foul of the half came in the 28th minute when Nigel de Jong kicked Xabi Alonso in the chest while the teams contested a ball in midfield. The Dutch midfielder's cleats went into his counterpart when a raised leg was run-into, Howard Webb judging the offense only yellow card worthy.
The fouls overshadowed a half that saw the Spanish nearly go up early, with Sergio Ramos's header on goal saved by Maarten Stekelenberg after the right back had drawn a foul along the right flank from Giovanni van Bronckhorst.
Spain was then able to create chances through Ramos, who put a had ball through the six after beating Dirk Kuyt in the penalty area, and David Villa, whose left footed volley from six yards out at the far post when into the outside of the net.
The Netherlands' best chance came near first half stoppage time, when Arjen Robben put a ball near post from 18 yards out, a diving Iker Casillas steering the ball wide.
Spain held a 62-38 possession advantage for the half while the Dutch out-fouled Spain 12-8.
It appeared unintentional, but Wesley Sneijder was fortunate to avoid the Netherlands' fourth yellow card of the half after his wayward attempt on a 50-50 ended with the bottom of his boot in Sergio Busquets' leg. Sneidjer was given a "talking to" by Howard Webb but was let-off without a booking.
The resulting free kick, from 45 yards out by Xabi Alonso, was rocketed four feet to the left of goal, the strike giving the crowd a moment of excitement in the 41st minute.
Perhaps the Netherlands' best chance of the young match failed to produce a shot on goal, the Dutch possibly wasting their chance to exploit Spain on a corner kick.
From the right of goal, Arjen Robben played a corner kick along the ground to the edge of the penalty area, where Mark van Bommel one-touched it to the left of goal for an open Joris Mathijsen. The center back's footwork failed him, and his attempt to open his left foot on the pass missed.
The World Cup final remains scoreless in the 40th minute.
Submitted for your approval, the offense that earned Nigel de Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute of today's World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain:
Nigel de Jong's kick to Xabi Alonso's chest was let-off easy by referee Howard Webb, who only gave the Dutch midfielder a yellow card for a red card offense on his Spanish counterpart.
In the 28th minute while attempting to play a ball coming down in the midfield, de Jong raised his right leg chest high into the oncoming Alonso.
Webb immediately showed a yellow card, ignoring Spanish players' appeals for the more severe punishment.
The card is the fifth given out through 28 minutes. The Dutch have committed eight fouls to Spain's three.
Now in the 32nd minute, the match remains scoreless.
Two more yellow cards have been given out in Johannesburg, bringing the total to four shown by referee Howard Webb in the match's first 23 minutes.
Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel has picked up a yellow card in the 22nd minute, sliding through the back of Andres Iniesta, taking up the Spanish midfielder.
One minute later, Sergio Ramos was shown yellow for taking out a Dutch attacker along the defense's right.
Now in the 26th minute, the World Cup final remains scoreless.
Robin van Persie picked-up a yellow card in the match's 14th minute, sliding into Spain left back Joan Capdevila, van Persie's second dangerous challenge of the match.
The Dutch striker dragged his left foot across the back of Sergio Busquets' leg in the opening moments of the match, though he escaped an early caution. With his second major infringement, van Persie went into the book.
Just over one minute later, Carles Puyol was given a yellow card after he took-out Arjen Robben, the Dutch right winger cutting-in from the left side to meet the sliding Spanish defender.
Now in the 19th minute, the match is still scoreless.
Spain has again defied the early pressure the Netherlands has tried to exert, generating their second scoring chance of the match in the 11th minute.
A long ball over the midfield from Pedro was brought down at the edge of the box by David Villa, who laid a pass off for Andres Iniesta. The Spanish midfielder switched play to the right flank for Sergio Ramos, who beat Dirk Kuyt and was able to put a hard cross across the six yard box. Central defender John Heitinga was there to precariously put the ball over the crossbar, giving the Spaniards a corner kick.
Spain played the kick short and eventually worked for a cross far post to David Villa, whose left-footed volley went into the outside of the net.
Now through 14 minutes, the World Cup final remains scoreless, Spain having three shots and 65 percent of the possession.
Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenberg has been tested early, affirmatively answering a question from Sergio Ramos, the right back heading a Xavi Hernandez free kick on goal to be denied by the diving Dutch `keeper.
Forty yards up the right flank Ramos was fouled by Giovanni van Bronckhorst, the Dutch's third foul in the first four minutes. Ramos nearly made them pay after he put Hernandez's dead ball on goal, with Stekelenberg's nice read of the play helping to keep the Dutch even in the 5th minute.
The teams, now in the 8th minute, have settled into the match, with Spain dominating possession despite strong pressure from the Dutch through the midfield as the Spaniards enter the Dutch half of the field.
There are no surprises for either team in the starting lineups for today's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands. Spain has gone with the same team that played against Germany on Wednesday while the Netherlands, with the return of the previously suspended Gregory van der Weil and Nigel de Jong, start the same, full-strength team that last appeared together against Slovakia in the Round of 16.
|Netherlands Starting XI||Spain Starting XI|
|G - Maarten Stekelenburg
LB - Giovanni van Bronckhorst
LCB - Joris Mathijsen
RCB - John Heitinga
RB - Gregory van der Wiel
DM - Nigel de Jong
DM - Mark vam Bommel
LW - Dirk Kuyt
AM - Wesley Sneijder
RW - Arjen Robben
F - Robin van Persie
|G - Iker Casillas
LB - Joan Capdevila
LCB - Carles Puyol
RCB - Gerard Piqué
RB - Sergio Ramos
DM - Sergio Busquets
M - Xabi Alonso
M - Xavi Hernández
AM - Andres Iniesta
AM - Pedro
F - David Villa
The drama that's captivated the sporting world for a month reaches its climax on Sunday, but for Spain, who will face the Netherlands in Johannesburg for the 2010 World Cup, the journey has lasted over three years. That's how long the Spaniards have been the world's best, and while that's a status that wasn't affirmed until two summers past, the expectations that they would end Spain's World Cup void were cast upon them the second they were crowned Europe's champions.
Like Spain, the Netherlands have never won a World Cup--though they've been on the cusp, having reached the 1974 and 1978 finals. Unlike Spain, the Dutch don't carry two years' worth of expectations into Sunday's game. On the contrary, after the Dutch dominated group stage at Euro 2008 only to flame-out in the knockout round, there was a decided same ol' Dutch feel to it all. Those were the mixed expectations the Netherlands carried into South Africa, but thanks to an unanticipated change of style, those expectations quickly became inapplicable.
This year's Dutch team is consistent, stable, if stoic (relative to the days of Total Football), yet it's a style that's brought the Netherlands back to the finals, where this year's team will have a chance to succeed where their more romanticized predecessors failed.
It's difficult to imagine a better final.
Where They Stand: The Netherlands come into Sunday’s match perfect, each of their last five wins by one goal, and although they are being criticized for their conservative play, the Dutch are averaging two goals per match, having scored multiple goals in each of their knockout phase games. Their defending, however, has not been as stellar, allowing five goals in six matches.
While that total’s not bad, consider the Netherlands’ counterparts: Spain. The Spanish have allowed only two goals in six matches and carry a scoreless streak of 313 minutes into the final. Spain, however, have shared the Netherlands’ habit of one goal wins, stringing together four in a row, the last three all 1-0 results where Spain was never ahead before the 63rd minute.
Both teams are expect the be at full health and strength for the final, with the Netherlands seeing the return to the lineup of Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Weil, both of whom were suspended for the semifinal against Uruguay.
Player(s) To Watch, Netherlands: In the formation the Dutch are employing, the most important player is always the advanced midfielder: Wesley Sneijder. The 26-year-old attacker is having his second successive, eye-opening, major tournament. Sneijder’s five goals (tied for tournament lead) and his team’s performance make him one of the leading contenders for the Golden Ball.
Those accolades aside, the Netherlands’ best player is right wing Arjen Robben. He is the one Dutch player that can score when nothing else his working, his left foot the singularly most dangerous weapon in world football. As evidenced by his 18th minute goal against Slovakia in the Round of 16, sometimes all the Dutch need to generate goals is a 60 yard punt to Robben. His ability to turn the match at any moment enables coach Bert van Marwijk to play as conservatively as he has been.
Other players of note for Holland: goalkeeper Maarten Stenkelenburg, central defender John Heitinga and left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst must be more stalwart against Spain’s attack than they’ve shown throughout the knockout stage; the key to protecting them may be defensive midfielders Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel, the backbone to the team.
Player(s) To Watch, Spain: What Robben is to the Dutch, forward David Villa is to the Spanish, but whereas the Netherlands has advanced to the final without dominant play from Robben (who has supplied only two of their twelve goals), the Spanish are hapless without Villa. Of Spain’s seven goals in the tournament, Villa has scored five and assisted on one (he seventh was off a corner kick). Every open play goal Spain’s recorded in the tournament has had Villa at its center.
But if Villa is Spain’s most dangerous player, Xavi Hernandez is their most important. In some ways, he is to Spain and Barcelona’s variety of Total Football what Johan Cruyff was to the Clockwork Orange’s: the player around whom everything is build and all the success depends. Hernandez leads the tournament in completed passes (still ahead of Bastian Schweinsteiger despite the German having now played an extra match), and given the margin by which Spain has been winning their matches, it’s confoudning to think of where La Roja would be were Xavi not the tournament’s most prolific distributor. Over the last two years, both Spain and Barcelona have built their teams around him, with both Spain and Barcelona finding unprecedented success.
Other players of note for Spain: Deep-sitting midfielders Xabi Alonso and, particularly, Sergio Busquets can stifle the Dutch if they control Sneijder; right back Sergio Ramos has been key to providing Spain with width on the right side, but on Sunday will be marked by notoriously hard-worker Dirk Kuyt; goalkeeper Iker Casillas will have the pleasure of dealing with Robben-plus-Jabulani should Joan Capdevila give the Dutch winger the same room he afforded Piotr Trochowski in the first half of Spain’s semifinal.
Prediction: While it's true the Dutch are averaging two goals per match, that's a statistic that's been built on opportunism more than skillful play. Between the own goal(s), a goal off a goalkeeper's arms, a offside goal allowed and goals scored against sides chasing late, the Dutch have created very few goals of their own accord. Now, they face a team that's only allowing a goal everything three matches, one which, as exhibited against Portugal and Paraguay, have found ways to scored against the most ardent defenses. Having shown against Germany that they are capable of adapting to go around a pair of good central midfielders (albeit, a pair less defensively stalwart than the Dutch's), Spain should be able to avoid the Netherlands' strength.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the Spain's performance against Germany was their ability to raise their game with the quality of opposition. All the adoration adorned upon the Spanish since their semifinal has made many overlook how well Germany was playing coming into that match (and how much Spain struggled against Paraguay). Yet, Spain controlled what had been the best team in the tournament.
While the Dutch's talent combined with the lessons the Germans had to learn (the hard way) could see the Netherlands to their first World Cup, Spain have to be considered strong favorites, and if they show the same determination they exhibited at the onset of their semifinal, the Spanish could give us a Spain 2, Netherlands 0 final.