World Cup 2010 Final, Spain Vs. Netherlands: Card-Filled First Half Ends Scoreless

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.

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