Spanish survive Netherlands’ brutal inquisition

SPANISH captain Iker Casillas lifted the World Cup to the African night sky as all of Spain celebrated the first World Cup triumph in their history.

And justice was done at the end of a match in which Holland should have lowered their heads in shame.

South Africa did not deserve this. They did not deserve a final which made history with 14 yellow cards, two of them leading to a red for Everton defender John Heitinga – the most cards in the 80-year history of the tournament.

They did not deserve the final throes of the first World Cup on their continent to be remembered for Dutch thuggery and a match which stained the spirit of football.

Heitinga was the man dismissed by English referee Howard Webb, who was booed by the Dutch fans as he picked up his souvenir medal and must have wondered what he had done to be awarded this Dante’s Inferno of a football match which was put out of its misery only when Andres Iniesta slid the ball into the Dutch net for victory after 116 minutes.

Even then Holland disgraced themselves even more as they surrounded Webb and the linesman, Joris Mathijsen slamming the ball into the turf for which he saw yellow.

We had hoped for a classic between two teams who profess to play beautiful football. After seeing Germany outclassed in the semi-final, Holland clearly decided they could not afford to match Spain when it came to skill, so they opted for a slugging match.

You can only imagine what Johan Cruyff, the Dutch pioneer of ‘Total Football’ back in the 1970s made of it.

When the referee is the story, forever at the centre of the action, it is a bad night for football.

In extra time Maarten Stekelenburg saved at point-blank range from Cesc Fabregas and the game opened up as the players tired.

Thankfully Iniesta finally found the net to spare us a penalty shoot-out and Spain were champions of the world. No arguments there. They have been the quality side of this World Cup.

It is just a shame on the most important night of all a team of Dutch cloggers did not allowed them to show it.

nUruguay’s Diego Forlan has won the FIFA Golden Ball as the outstanding player at the World Cup.

The Atletico Madrid man scored five goals, including a couple of stunners against South Africa and Germany, as Uruguay exceeded expectations to reach the semi-finals and then lose the third-place play-off 3-2 to Germany.

Forlan finished in a four-way tie with Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa for the Golden Boot with five goals – an award Muller took on a tie-break thanks to having more assists.

Muller also picked up the Best Young Player award, while Spain captain Iker Casillas can add the Golden Glove award to his World Cup winners’ medal.


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