Spain World Champions
For the first time in their history, Spain's national football team held the World Cup trophy in their hands last night, after decades of disappointing their public on soccer's biggest stage!
It was no less than Spain deserves, with their star crop of players persisting with their brand of passing football from start to finish of the tournament - and finally getting their reward with Iniesta's cup-final-winning strike in the 116th minute. It was Spain 1, Holland 0 on the night.
There was a touch of controversy to the goal, as referee Howard Webb had failed to award a blatant corner to the Netherlands a moment before, but in fact the Dutch won the ball from the resulting goal kick only for their attack to break down. Spain countered up the right flank, before playing it across to Torres on the left. His cross was poorly cleared by the Dutch defense and Fabregas seized on the loose ball taking a quick touch before releasing Iniesta through on goal. The Barcelona FC playmaker took his chance brilliantly, as Spanish supporters went crazy. The midfielder also took off his shirt to reveal a message of tribute for Dani Jarque on his vest... the Espanyol captain, and part of the Spanish national team, died of a heart attack in 2009 aged just 26.
It was by no means a classic final, with the Dutch in particular overstepping the mark physically with some horrendous challenges, although they did also contribute some great attacking play. Robben was released twice one-on-one with Casillas, but the Real Madrid keeper got a foot to his first effort, whilst the second remains arguably the most controversial moment of the match. Puyol, beaten for pace, all but rugby tackled Robben as he bore down on goal... but the Dutch attacker rode the challenge and tried to score. However his momentum was lost. Had he gone down it would have been a straight red for Puyol, and the defender was lucky to say the least, whilst Robben was incensed that play wasn't called back.
In the end it was a Dutch player who got sent off (and there was always going to be at least one, in a game of this ferocity), although Heitinga was unlucky to receive a second yellow for a relatively innocuous hand on Iniesta's shoulder.
There are many who believe you make your own luck in football, and that certainly seems to be the case for Spain. Overall they were the stand-out team of the World Cup 2010, with a mix of great passing, technique and gifted individuals - and a dogged defense, backed up by the superb Iker Casillas. Very few would begrudge them the World Cup trophy as worthy winners, and to top it off they also won the FIFA fair play award.
Despite some Catalan spoilsports feeling they can't enjoy victory for the Spanish national side, there were many more in Barcelona who erupted with joy at the victory. Not always that responsibly sadly, but for the most part there was flag-waving, firecrackers and peaceful beer-drinking aplenty - and just a touch of nudity! Viva Espana!