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Sunday, July 11, 2010

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Andres Iniesta scores in extra time as Spain beats Netherlands 1-0 to win first World Cup

Finally, after years of stumbling and underachieving, Spain finds itself on top of the soccer world Sunday.
With four minutes remaining to the dreaded penalty kicks, Andres Iniesta scored to lift Spain to a 1-0 win over the Netherlands for its first World Cup championship at Soccer City Stadium.
The Spanish, who had never reached the semifinals before this tournament, became the first European team to win off continent and the first team to lose its first game to capture soccer's most coveted prize.
Spain started with a stunning 1-0 first-round loss to Switzerland, but bounced back with five consecutive victories. The Spaniards topped Honduras, 2-0, and Chile, 2-1, in the group stage. They bested Portugal, 1-0, in the second round, Paraguay, 1-0, in the quarterfinals and Germany, 1-0, in the semifinals.
Fernando Torres, the underachieving forward who came on for a tired David Villa at the start of the second extra period, started the winning scoring sequence. He sent a pass from the left flank to the middle to Cesc Fabregas. Fabregas then found Iniesta on the right side and the Spanish midfielder sent a six-yard shot that goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg got a hand on, but could not stop from going into the far left post.
It was Iniesta's second goal of the tournament.
Ineiesta was awarded a yellow card for taking off his shirt during his goal celebration. It was one of 13 yellows that English referee Howard Webb handed out in this physical encounter before 4,490 spectators.
The match reminded veteran observers of the dreadful Italia '90 final in which a cynical Argentina team, led by Diego Maradona, did everything in its power to stop Germany from playing. The Germans finally prevailed, 1-0, on a penalty kick in what is considered one of the poorest World Cup championship games.
Just before the teams entered the field, security officials produced the first tackle of the night as they stopped a fan who bolted across the field toward the FIFA World Cup trophy on display. However, several security personnel just got to the man before he could grab the trophy. He was taken off the field.
Only minutes prior, Fabio Cannavaro, captain of the 2006 Italian World Cup champions, had brought the trophy onto the field.
The game pit the yellow-card hungry Dutch against the off-target Spanish.
The first half was hardly worth of a final as the Dutch resorted to thuggery.
The most active man on the field in the was Webb, who doled out 13 yellow cards and a red. Dutch defender John Heitinga was given his marching orders in the first extratime for pulling down Iniesta just outside the penalty area

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