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Posted on: Monday, 12 July 2010

Iniesta’s late strike wins World Cup for Spain

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Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta

Iniesta’s late strike wins World Cup for Spain
Spain captured their first ever World Cup trophy when they defeated the Netherlands 1-0 last night courtesy of a 115th minute goal from midfielder Andres Iniesta (pictured). Iniesta slotted the winner in extra time when he was put clear by Cesc Fabregas and drove the ball past a diving Maarten Stekelenburg in the Dutch goal. It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for the Netherlands who suffered their third World Cup final loss after defeats in 1974 and 1978.

European champions Spain had looked the more confident outfit early on in the clash at Johannesburg’s Soccer City as an apprehensive Dutch team yielded ground to their fast-moving opponents. Stekelenburg was forced to make a save after just five minutes when Sergio Ramos headed a Xavi cross goalwards while Spain’s David Villa smashed a volley into the side netting with the goal looming.

However, a series of freekicks and bookings, including two strong tackles by Dutch midfielders Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel, disrupted Spain’s rhythm and prevented ‘La Roja’ from producing the swift-passing game that earned them a place in the final.

Netherlands offered precious little in attack and the closest they came to a first-half goal was a peculiar incident when Gregory van der Wiel attempted to give the ball back in an act of sportsmanship. The fullback’s 60-metre kick bounced up and over Spain captain Iker Casillas, forcing the surprised ‘keeper to leap and tip the bal to safety.

The game continued with plenty of stoppages and few chances, until Wesley Sneijder penetrated the Spanish defence with a perfectly timed ball into the path of Arjen Robben after 62 minutes. However, Casillas was able to produce a brilliant save with his feet and deny the speedy Dutch winger what would have been a certain goal.

In an exciting end to normal time Villa had a shot parried in front of the line, an unmarked Ramos headed recklessly over the bar from five metres out and Carlos Puyol was fortunate to escape punishment after bringing down a seething Robben.

In extra time it was Stekelenburg’s turn to save with his feet when substitute Fabregas was put clear by Iniesta. Netherlands were forced to play with 10 men after 20 minutes of extra time when John Heitinga was red carded for hauling down Iniesta on the edge of the box.

The diminutive midfielder got back on his feet and soon after was celebrating scoring the winning goal to send the delirious Spanish fans into a frenzy of delight. It was a thoroughly deserved victory for ‘La Roja’ who played some top-notch football throughout the tournament, although the Dutch will feel agrieved that they could not put produce the goods when it mattered most.

The match brought down the curtain on a highly successful World Cup for South Africa and Africa, disproving many pundits who felt it was impossible for the country and the continent to host such a major international sporting event. There is now talk of South Africa being considered as a possible future host for the 2020 Olympic games – a scenario previously unimaginable had it not been for their successful hosting of the 2010 World Cup.

Diego Forlan

Diego Forlan

Forlan comes up tops
Spain may have won the World Cup but Uruguay’s Diego Forlan (pictured) won the best player of the tournament award courtesy of some magnificent goals that helped his team become South America’s only semi-finalists. The blond striker won legions of supporters for his brilliant play on the pitch and courteous attitude off it where he always made time to sign autographs and chat with fans.

Forlan took 23.4 percent in the “Golden Ball” poll organised by world soccer body Fifa and voted for by journalists. Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder came second with 21.8 percent and Spain’s David Villa was third on 16.9 percent. All three stars netted five goals, making them joint top scorers along with Germany’s Thomas Mueller who claimed the “Golden Boot” and Best Young Player awards. In addition to winning the tournament, Spain also bagged the Fifa Fair Play Award and their captain Iker Casillas claimed the “Golden Glove” prize for best goalkeeper.

Forlan’s award will provide some comfort to Uruguayans after their side were narrowly defeated by Germany in the third place playoff on Saturday. Forlan was unable to force the game into extra time after he struck the bar with a curling free kick in the last touch of the match.

Saturday – World Cup third and fourth place play offs
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Uruguay: 2 [Cavani (27), Forlan (50)]
Germany: 3 [Muller (17), Jansen (55), Khedira (81)]

Photo Credits:
Photo – Andres Iniesta: Source – www.futbolmania12.wordpress.com
Photo – Diego Forlan: Source – www.billsworldcup.wordpress.com

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