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Andres Iniesta netted in the extra time to give European champions Spain their first-ever World Cup title here on Sunday, upsetting the Netherlands 1-0 in the final.
In a game when a record number of yellow cards were given and John Heitinga was sent off in extra-time, both sides missed great chances from Arjen Robben and Cesc Fabregas.
The winning goal came in the 116th minute when Fabregas fed Iniesta who volleyed the ball into the corner with aplomb.
Both sides had never been crowned in World Cup. The Netherlands entered the finals of 1974 and 1978 editions but lost to West Germany and Argentina respectively. Spain’s best result had been the fourth in 1950.
Today, Spain made history to add its name into the list of World Cup champions and also broke the jinx that reigning European champions could not take World Cup title.
The Netherlands, who won all the six matches on their road to the final, also made a history to become the first-ever team losing three times in the finals of World Cup.
In the final, Spain coach Del Bosque fielded the same starters in the semifinal, leaving striker Fernando Torres on the bench again. Dutch formation was almost the same as that of their semifinal, only seeing defender Van Der Wiel to replace Khalid Boulahrouz.
The 84,490 spectators did not enjoy a fluent flow of the game. Instead, the final was interrupted by tackles after tackles.
The 14 yellow cards handed out in the match by England referee Howard Webb is now the record for most ever in a World Cup final.
Only six minutes into the game, Xavi Hernandez’s cross was met by Spain defender Sergio Ramos in the box and Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg made a superb diving save and was up quickly to stop Gerard Pique squaring it to David Villa for a tap in.
From a short corner in the 12th minute, Xabi Alonso crossed to the back post where Villa smacked a left-footed volley into the side-netting.
Three minutes later, Dutch forward Robin van Persie’s late tackle on Joan Capdevila was met with the final’s first yellow card. But Spain defender Carles Puyol, who headed in the winning goal in the semifinal, leveled up the yellow count for his tackle on Arjen Robben.
The third yellow card of the final went to Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel for an absolutely tackle on Iniesta from behind on 22 minutes, and the fourth was given to Ramos for piling in on Dirk Kuyt after one minute.
Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong went in the book in the 28th minute for clattering Alonso with a karate kick in the chest. Webb should have shown a red for such an awful tackle.
A short corner from the Dutch offers two chances in the 37th minute. Van Bommel scuffed his shot on the edge of the box, but he did better than Joris Mathijsen, who totally missed his kick at the back post.
The 45th minute witnessed a free kick across goal before Puyol cleared, then Robben’s low shot was turned behind by a scrambling Iker Casillas.
Puyol leaped high to meet the corner at the near post in the 48th minute and as it fell to the back post, Joan Capdevila missed his kick from seven yards out.
The Netherlands collected two yellow cards around 55 minutes, one for Giovanni van Bronckhorst and the other for Heitinga. And Puyol was also cautioned later.
A great chance for the Netherlands came in the 62nd minute when Wesley Sneijder played Robben clean through, but Casillas stood tall to flick a leg out at his effort and turn it round the post. That could be a turning point in this match.
The Dutch made a narrow escape in the 70th minute when Jesus Navas’ low cross was stumbled over by Heitinga and as Villa looked certain to score, the defender made amends with a last-ditch tackle.
What a miss in the 77th minute when Ramos had a free header from seven yards out, but nodded it over.
Casillas saved Spain again in the 83rd minute when Robben burst clear of Puyol to get to the ball but as he tried to skip round Casillas, the skipper grabbed hold of the ball.
Robben was booked for dissent after he complained that Puyol fouled him in that last episode.
In the extra time, Fabregas went clean through in the 95th minute when a sublime pass from Iniesta released him but Maarten Stekelenberg blocked his shot.
After one minute, there was a great chance for the Dutch as Casillas came for a corner and got stranded but Joris Mathijsen couldn’t nod into an empty net.
Three minutes later, Fabregas released Iniesta, who was in two minds as to shoot or tee up Navas, in the end he did nothing and Van Bronckhorst made a timely challenge.
Heitinga was off in the 109th minute when he got a second yellow for pulling back Iniesta. After two minutes, Gregory van der Wiel was yellow carded for a late lunge on Iniesta.