Day 25 World Cup action round-up - Late Iniesta strike seals World Cup joy for Spain
The final game of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw Spain agonisingly edge out the Netherlands thanks to a 116th minute Andres Iniesta goal. The game had become rather tactical throughout the regulation 90 minutes with Holland certainly not winning over any neutrals with their aggressive and at times unfair approach. As the game went on, it was allowed to flow from end to end and Spain took advantage late on to lift the World Cup trophy for the first time in the country’s history.
The Netherlands 0
An Andres Iniesta strike with just four minutes of extra-time left was enough to see Spain named world champions for the very first time as they eventually edged out the Netherlands in a tactical affair.
While the Dutch looked understandably nervy early on, Spain hit their stride within minutes of the kick off, Sergio Ramos twice threatening to open the scoring inside the opening 12 minutes.
Holland were perhaps lucky to have 11 players left on the pitch at the half-time break, as holding midfielders Mark Van Bommel and Nigel De Jong both produced horrendous challenges a piece but escaped with a just a yellow card .
The first chance of the second-half would prove to be Holland’s best of the game when Arjen Robben was slipped through superbly by Wesley Sneijder and had just Iker Casillas to beat. Despite sending the Spanish goalkeeper the wrong way, Casillas produced a remarkable stop with his right boot to deny Robben and keep the scores level.
Spain had two glorious chances of their own minutes later, the first falling to David Villa who saw his goal bound effort blocked after a brilliant last ditch clearance by John Heitinga, while Sergio Ramos missed the target completely from just six yards out, having rose unmarked from a Xavi corner.
Extra-time was needed to separate the sides and Spain were handed a significant advantage with 11 minutes to play when Heitinga was dismissed by referee Howard Webb for a second yellow card, having deliberately pulling back Iniesta on the edge of the penalty area.
As everyone was gearing up for the dreaded penalty shoot-out to decide the outcome of the 2010 World Cup , Spain broke Dutch hearts. With just four minutes left, Holland had become stretched as a result of the sending off, allowing Cesc Fabregas to pick out Iniesta who lashed home on the half volley to send the Spanish contingent wild in Johannesburg and record their first ever World Cup triumph.
A superb summer of football saw England, France and Italy all fail miserably, favourites Brazil and Argentina both dumped out at the hands of European opposition and Ghana fly the flag of Africa all the way to the quarter-finals.
But in the end, Spain finally delivered on the greatest stage of all at it looks certain that many more World Cup triumphs will now follow in future years.