Spain, 2010 World Cup champions
Spain is champion of the world after Andres Iniesta’s goal deep into extra-time gave her victory over Netherlands in the World Cup final at Soccer City after a goalless first 105 minutes.
Iniesta netted as Spain broke to punish 10-man Holland after John Heitinga’s sending-off seven minutes earlier.
Both sides lined up as expected. Netherlands continued with the 1 to 11 which has been Bert van Marwijk’s first choice line -up since Arjen Robben’s return from injury, while Vicente Del Bosque favoured Barcelona’s Pedro to Liverpool’s Fernando Torres just as he had for the semi-final victory over Germany.
At the renditions of the national anthems there were signs of nerves across the faces of players on each side, everyone concerned knowing that they could make history for their country by claiming the moniker of world champions for the first time.
The opening few minutes were notable mainly for the inability of either side to really string a significant series of passes together as every player looked to get a calming first touch of the ball. But in the fifth minute Spain created a real opportunity for themselves as they started to impress their authority on proceedings.
Xavi sent a free-kick in from the right to find the Sergio Ramos, who had gained half a yard on the flinching Robin van Persie, but the right-back’s header came from an awkward height and allowed Maarten Stekelenburg to make a full-length parry to keep the scores level.
Holland’s first shot at goal came when Dirk Kuyt scuffed a 30-yard effort after Sergio Busquets had failed to control a simple square pass, but the Liverpool wide man’s effort was easily gathered by Iker Casillas.
In the 11th minute Spain created a second decent opportunity, and again it was full-back Ramos who was the Johnny on the spot. Having run at Giovanni van Bronckhorst, he took a step to the right and saw a gap open up, but his right-footed effort was well blocked by Joris Mathijsen.
From the resulting corner Xavi Hernandez swung in a delicious far post ball for David Villa, but the striker’s volleyed effort hit the side-netting when he’d have hoped to do better. The game was beginning to get a little scrappy as the Netherlands looked to find a way to earn more possession. Van Persie was the first player to enter referee Howard Webb’s notebook when he brought down Joan Capdevila with a nasty looking challenge, and moments later he was followed by Carles Puyol, booked for a tackle from behind on Arjen Robben.