Spain beat Netherlands 1-0 to win World Cup

Emerge new champs at soccer World Cup 2010

Spain beat Netherlands 1-0 to win World Cup

Spain’s midfielder Andrés Iniesta celebrates after scoring a goal past Netherlands’ goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg at the football World Cup final at Soccer City stadium in Soweto, suburban Johannesburg, on Sunday.AFP

Andres Iniesta scored a goal deep into extra-time to give Spain the World Cup for the first time with a 1-0 win over Netherlands on Sunday.

With the score level at 0-0 four minutes from the end and about to go to a penalty shootout and Netherlands down to 10 men, Iniesta scored from close range after a Cesc Fabregas pass to end the all-European final.

Spain had the best of the play in a bruising game in which nine players were shown yellow cards by English referee Howard Webb in the first 90 minutes, a World Cup final record.

Dutch defender John Heitinga was sent off for a second yellow in the second half of extra-time.

This was the Netherlands’ third defeat in a World Cup final.
In regulation play, European champions Spain looked the more assured early on as a nervous-looking Dutch side ceded territory to their slick opponents.

Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was forced into a diving save after five minutes when Sergio Ramos headed a Xavi cross goalwards while Spain forward David Villa crashed a volley into the side netting with the goal looming.

However, a series of free kicks and bookings, including two strong challenges by Dutch midfield enforcers Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel, shook Spain out of their rhythm.
The Netherlands battling approach meant the Spanish were unable to reproduce the swift-passing possession football that got them to the final.

The Dutch offered little in attack and the nearest they came to a first-half goal was a bizarre incident after 38 minutes when Gregory van der Wiel attempted to give the ball back in an act of sportsmanship. The fullback's 60-metre punt bounced up and over Spain captain Iker Casillas, forcing the startled keeper to leap and tip it to safety.

The game continued in the same deadlocked vein after the break, with frequent stoppages and few chances, until Wesley Sneijder split the Spanish defence with a perfectly-weighted ball into the path of Arjen Robben after 62 minutes.

The winger bore down on Casillas and must have thought he had scored when he sent him the wrong way with a low shot but the keeper stuck out a leg and diverted the ball to safety.

Spain then began to take control, moving the ball forward more quickly and created two good chances.

First, a cross by lively substitute Jesus Navas reached Villa at the far post but his shot was blocked on the line, and then Ramos headed wildly over the bar from five metres out after being left unmarked at a corner.

Mandela at stadium

Earlier, Nelson Mandela attended the closing ceremony, thrilling fans and capping South Africa's pride in staging a successful tournament.

Mandela, 91, who is in frail health, waved as he briefly toured the pitch in a golf cart surrounded by bodyguards.

A man wearing an anti-racism T-shirt ran on to the pitch minutes before the start of the final on Sunday and came very close to grabbing the trophy exhibited on the pitch. Several security men and stewards managed to wrestle him to the ground as he was about to snatch the trophy, positioned on a stand just inside the touchline.

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