It took 26 minutes of extra time after the end of regulation to find a winner.
But it was in the 116th minute, that Spain’s Andres Iniesta slammed home a bouncing ball into the far corner and gave Spain their first ever World Cup Championship with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands.
“It’s hard to put into words how
it feels to win a World Cup,” Iniesta said, who was named Man of the
Match after the game. “To win it that way was amazing.”
For Holland, it is their third time
in a World Cup final, and now all three times they have come away
We’ve come so close, and that makes it even more disappointing,” captain Giovanni Van Bronckhorst said. “We had to take one of our chances, and you never know what might have happened after that.
It was a physical affair on the night,
with no less than 14 yellow cards being shown by the English referee
Howard Webb, and a red card was shown to Dutch defender John Heitinga
after a second yellow card in the 109th minute.
Spain worked their usual magic during the game, finishing with 57 percent of the possession and thoroughly controlling the tempo throughout the 120 minutes of the match. Holland had to wait on the counter attack for their opportunities, and they were awarded with two huge chances.
On the first, Holland’s maestro Wesley
Sneijder made a perfect pass to a streaking Arjen Robben, who only had
the keeper to beat. But the Spanish keeper Iker Casillias made a huge
save with his right boot, and the ball went wide of the goal.
And later in the match, Robben again
ran onto a pass from midfield, raced by one defender, and there was
some contact from Spanish defender Carles Puyol, but Robben stayed on
his feet. However, the contact put him off the ball for just a second,
and it was enough for Casillias to gather the ball and save his squad.
"When I missed my first chance
it was simply my error,” Robben said. “I was not patient enough
and should have gone around him instead of a poor finish."
Meanwhile though, Spain continued to
be patient in their attack and found a few chances to pepper the net.
In just the 5th minute, Sergio Ramos of Spain had an open header in the box, and a brilliant save was needed from the Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelunberg to stop the Spaniards from taking an early lead.
And later, in the 5th minute
of extra time, Stekelenburg made a great save on Cesc Fabregas of Spain
when he was in on goal. Fabregas’ left footed shot was saved away
by the shin of Stekelenburg, keeping the game 0-0.
After the red card in the 109th
minute to Heitinga, the game seemed to be slowing down and heading for
penalty kicks. But Andres Iniesta would have none of that.
In the 116th minute of the
match, a cross from the left by Fernando Torres was stopped before
its target by a falling Rafael Van Der Vaart of the Netherlands.
But Van Der Vaart had fallen over when making the play, and as the ball fell right to Fabregas, he played Iniesta into space in the box. Iniesta was onside due to Van Der Vaart’s fall keeping him behind the back line. (Incidentally, Van Der Vaart’s mother is Spanish and his father is Dutch).
From there, Iniesta controlled the
ball, and as it hung in the air for almost an eternity, he fired it
on the volley into the far post, and sent the Spanish nation into
“I still can’t believe it,” Iniesta said. “I’m just happy I managed to do my bit and score such an important goal for the national side.”
Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque was proud of his player’s achievements.
“There’s a great sense of happiness in the dressing room right now,” he said. “It’s hard to put it all into words and the way the players feel goes way beyond words. This is an unforgettable moment.”
For now, Spain can celebrate their
second major title in three years, and this Golden Generation of Spanish
football will be forever remembered throughout the world.
“It’s a game to remember and to celebrate,” Iniesta said. “All we want to do now is go home and enjoy it.”