Spain vs. Netherlands: Spain is World Cup winner after 1-0 victory over the Netherlands

A goal by Andres Iniesta in the 116th minute lifts Spain over the Netherlands, 1-0, in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final in South Africa.
By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 12, 2010

JOHANNESBURG -- After enduring 80 years to win the World Cup, Spain certainly wasn't going to let the Netherlands' bruising tactics, 30 minutes of overtime, a record number of yellow cards and several squandered scoring opportunities to get in the way of history.

The wait ended Sunday night when, in the 116th minute of an abrasive, unattractive match on the brink of heading to a penalty kick tiebreaker, midfielder Andres Iniesta scored against the short-handed Dutch for a 1-0 victory before 84,490 at Soccer City Stadium.

In their first appearance in the championship game after decades of maddening failure, the Spaniards tolerated Dutch aggression and several anxious moments to build upon their 2008 European title.

"We started a legacy in 2008," Coach Vicente Del Bosque said, "and we tried to preserve that legacy here."

Netherlands lost in the championship game for the third time, and in the process, stained its laudable reputation with a reprehensible performance. The Oranje received nine yellow cards -- three more than the combined record for a final, set in 1986 -- and when defender John Heitinga was assessed his second in the 109th minute, the Netherlands had to play a man short.

Dutch Coach Bert van Marwijk tried to defend his team's approach, which included Nigel de Jong's flying kick to Xabi Alonso's chest in the first half.

"It's not our style to commit horrible fouls," he said. "It's not our kind of football. Both sides committed terrible fouls."

When the match ended, amid fireworks and confetti, several Dutch players confronted English referee Howard Webb.

Spain was hardly innocent but nothing compared to the Oranje.

The match was "very tough, very rough," Iniesta said. "All sorts of things were happening on the pitch."

Iniesta, one of six Spain starters from club titan FC Barcelona, seemed to get better as the match unfolded and made the difference late in extra time.

Fernando Torres's service was blocked to the feet of teammate Cesc Fabregas, who served a diagonal ball for Iniesta. Dutch defender Rafael van der Vaart stepped forward in an effort to catch Iniesta offside but was too late. Iniesta touched the ball high and then stung a waist-level shot from seven yards off goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg's right hand and into the far corner.

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