Andres Iniesta scores the winning goal as Spain lift World Cup.
Netherlands 0-1 Spain
FIFA World Cup 2010
7.30pm (BST), Sunday 11 July
Soccer City, Johannesburg
Andres Iniesta’s extra-time strike saw Spain win the World Cup for the first time in their history as they beat Holland 1-0 in Johannesburg.
The European champions were marginally the better side throughout, but had failed to make the breakthrough despite the dismissal of Johnny Heitinga in the extra period.
Yet Cesc Fabregas then fed Iniesta, who smashed the ball past Maarten Stekelenburg to condemn Holland to their third World Cup Final defeat.
A lot of talk before the game was about whether the Netherlands would be able to stifle Spain’s passing football, and they managed to do so in the first-half in an uncompromising style.
Both of their defensive midfielders, Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong, were fortunate to still be on the pitch after two particularly horrendous tackles.
Yet the game began to open up after the interval as both teams threw men into the attack, and Holland should have taken the lead after an hour.
It was a superb pass by Wesley Sneijder that set up the chance, the midfielder firing a pass into Robben’s path as he streaked beyond the Spanish defence. The Bayern Munich winger waited for Iker Casillas to commit himself and tried to lift it over the keeper – only for the Spaniard to deny him superbly with his right foot.
And seven minutes later it was Spain’s turn to go desperately close. If they wanted a chance to fall to anyone then it would have been five-goal David Villa, but after Gregory Van Der Wiel fell over when trying to clear a cross the defender launched himself in the way to block the strikers’ goal-bound shot.
Ramos should then have given Spain the lead, heading Xavi’s cross over the bar from just six yards out when he should have scored, before Robben saw another effort foiled by Casillas.
But with neither side able to make the breakthrough the game went into extra-time, where it began to be a real end-to-end affair.
Spain were looking the more dangerous, however, as Jesus Navas saw a shot deflected into the side netting before substitute Fabregas twice went close. The first was a wonderful chance as he was denied by Stekelenburg having been put clean through by Iniesta, and the second when he fired wide after a wonderful run past a host of Dutch defenders.
Yet Holland were finally reduced to ten men at the start of the second period of extra-time as Heitinga pulled back Iniesta, giving Webb little choice but to reach for a second yellow card for the Everton man.
And they were made to pay with just three minutes left as Spain made the crucial breakthrough.
Fabregas picked up a loose ball on the edge of the Dutch area before feeding the ball into the path of Iniesta, who took a touch and slammed the ball past Stekelenburg sparking delirious celebrations among the Spanish camp. Netherlands
1 Stekelenburg, 2 Van Der Wiel, 3 Heitinga, 4 Mathijsen, 5 Van Bronckhorst (C) (15 Braafheid, 105), 6 Van Bommel, 8 De Jong (23 Van der Vaart, 99), 10 Sneijder, 7 Kuyt (17 Elia, 70), 9 Van Persie, 11 Robben
Subs 16 Vorm, 22 Boschker, 12 Boulahrouz, 13 Ooijer, 14 De Zeeuw, 18 Schaars, 20 Afellay, 19 Babel, 21 Huntelaar Spain
1 Casillas (C), 3 Pique, 5 Puyol, 11 Capdevila, 15 Ramos, 6 Iniesta, 8 Xavi, 14 Alonso (10 Fabregas, 87), 16 Busquets, 7 Villa (9 Torres, 105), 18 Pedro (22 Navas, 60)
Subs 12 Valdes, 23 Reina, 2 Albiol, 4 Marchena, 17 Arbeloa, 20 Martinez, 21 Silva, 13 Mata, 19 Llorente Goal
Iniesta, 117 Referee
Howard Webb (England)