Spain celebrates its historic breakthrough while Netherlands feels the sorrow of its third World Cup final loss. Spain was the deserved winner, controlling play, though Netherlands had two great chances that Robben couldn’t put away.
Spain was the pretournament favorite and though it never fully hit its stride in this tournament, it kept doing what it needed to do to win. It’s the first time a team has lost its first game of the tournament, in this case a 1-0 defeat by Switzerland, and gone on to win. And Spain won despite scoring just eight goals in the whole tournament, the fewest ever.
116′: Iniesta scores! Spain’s first foray into the box is stopped, but Spain gets the ball back, gets it to Iniesta and he volleys it back past Stekelenburg for the goal that sends Spain wild.
115′: Sneijder’s free kick from about 30 is deflected just wide by the wall.
113′: The Spanish want a yellow on Robben for kicking the ball after an offside call, which you’re supposed to do, but referee Webb, no doubt knowing Robben is already on a yellow, refrains.
110′: Xavi’s free ick goes well over the bar. This should put a definite crimp in Dutch’s goal-scoring efforts. Spain should have 10 solid minutes of scoring chances. Van der Wiel just got another yellow for Netherlands, eight in all for them. The Dutch have to be thinking PKs now.
109′: Heitinga gets his second yellow for pulling down Iniesta as he breaks for a pass from Xavi. It’s a free kick from about 5 yards outside the box. The Dutch are down to 10.
106′: Spain makes its last sub, bringing on the hobbling Torres for Villa. So it will be either Sneijder or Mueller who wins the Golden Boot. There are your players for the rest of the game. No subs left.
105′: Last sub for Netherlands: Braafheid for Von Bronckhorst, whose playing career is now over. This is going to be his last game.
101′: Navas has another golden chance deflected just wide. Netherlands needs to shore up its defense.
99′: Iniesta somehow gets in alone on Stekelenburg, but von Bronckhorst scrambles back and runs him off the ball in the box. And excellent chances for Spain.
The Dutch make a sub, bringing on van der Vaart for De Jong.
95′: Stekelenburg makes a save on Fabregas, Netherlands counters dangerously and gets a corner that is headed over the bar. Both teams are picking up where the second half ended.
Three of the last five World Cup finals have gone to overtime.
REGULATION: We go to overtime, two 15-minute, non-sudden death periods, which would be followed by, I hope not, penalty kicks. Spain had more of the ball, but Netherlands had the best chances, as Robben got two breakaways on counterattacks but was stopped at the last minute. The second 45 minutes was substantially better than the first. Overtime will probably start cautiously, than open up. In general, I’d say Spain is more likely to score, but the Dutch long balls out of the back have been dangerous. Robben will rue his missed chances if Spain wins.
90′: Three minutes of added time.
87′: Fabregas comes on for Alonso.(Had that wrong the first time) One sub left for Spain. Two for Netherlands.
83′: Another near miss for Robben, who outruns Puyol, fights off a foul by him but Casillas comes out to grab the ball off his foot. And then Robben gets a yellow for yelling at the ref.
75′: In its past three wins, all by 1-0 scores, Spain has gotten its goal in the final 30 minutes. They seem more likely to score than the Dutch do.
70′: A near miss for Spain, as the Dutch mishandle the ball in the box and David Villa has a chance from a few feet but it’s blocked by the Dutch.
A sub for Netherlands, Elia for Kuyt.
67′: Now it’s Spain’s Capdevila getting a yellow for taking down van Persie. You can’t say referee Webb isn’t trying to keep control of the game. He’s been handing out yellows pretty much since the start of play. The teams just keep on doing it.
62′: The Dutch spring Robben on a breakaway and he comes in alone on Casillas, who manages to get his shoe just barely on the ball and deflect the shot wide. A tremendous chance for the Dutch, easily their best of the game and the kind you need to make to win World Cups.
60′: Spain makes a sub, bringing on Navas for Pedro.
56′: Now Heitinga gets a yellow for Netherlands. That’s five for the Dutch, and with two for Spain, that’s a record for yellows in the World Cup final. The available candidates for future yellows continue to decrease.
54′: Von Bronckhorst gets a yellow card, making four on Netherlands in this match. Pretty soon, someone’s going to get a second.
48′: A Spain corner into the box is flicked on by Puyol but Capdevila swings and misses on the other side of the box. Just as in the first half, Spain comes out flying, though the Dutch seem energetic as well.
HALFTIME: No score in a chippy first half that wasn’t terribly thrilling and produced five yellow cards. Cautious is probably the best word, as there were only three shots on goal. Spain clearly had the better of it in the first half, but the Dutch did make occasional forays forward and had some threats, but nothing much came of them. The best chance belonged to Spain, with Stekelenburg having to make a diving save off a header off a corner kick.
The match is living up to what I expected, a cautious tactical battle that has produced more fouls that I would have expected. The Dutch have to be careful; they’ve three yellow cards it would be easy for someone to get a second.
Spain has a 56-44 edge in possession and Spain has completed 75 percent of its passes compared to 55 for the Netherlands.
I’d like to thank ABC for taking the tornado watch graphic off the screen during the game.
37′: A corner kick gives a chance to Mathijsen in the box, but he swings and misses at a quickly spinning ball.
33′: Casillas slams into Puyol chasing a long ball and Puyol is shaken up. When play restarts, the Dutch kick the ball back to Casillas, and it makes a big bounce on him and he has to tip it away lest it go in the goal, though I think it would have gone wide. This gives the Dutch a corner kick, but they do the gentlemanly thing and play it straight on the ground to Casillas to give Spain the ball back. It would have been interesting if the ball had gone in. The Dutch then would have been obligated to give Spain a goal. I don’t think that’s ever happened in a World Cup.
28′: De Jong gets a yellow for putting his foot squarely in the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. That was a bad one, and could have been really dangerous. That’s three yellows for the Dutch in the first half hour.
22′: Van Bommel, generally considered the dirtiest player in the later rounds of the tournament, gets a yellow for a slide tackle on Iniesta. That’s three total in the first 22 minutes.
17′: Puyol gets a yellow card for a late challenge on Robben. Spain has gotten only a few cards in the tournament. Sneijder’s ensuing free kick goes right at Casillas.
15′: Netherlands Van Persie gets a yellow card fora tackle on Capdevila. It was deserved. Capdevila is getting treatment on his leg.
12′: More early chances for Spain, with a header going just wide. They didn’t show it on camera, but apparently right before the players came on the field, a fan came out of the stands and tried to run off with the World Cup, which was sitting on a pedestal at midfield. He was tackled by security just before touching the Cup and hauled away.
5′: Dutch goalie Stekelenburg makes a great save on a header by Ramos off a free kick. The rebound looked dangereous but a shot was blocked and the ball cleared. Spain is the early aggressor and has been called offsides twice. The Dutch haven’t had much past midfield.
The Dutch get to wear their regular orange uniforms; Spain is in blue.
The closing ceremony, with a performance by Shakira, is complete and Nelson Mandela has greeted the fans as we get ready for the World Cup final at 1:30 p.m. on ABC.
The starting lineups have been announced:
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Spain will start with an unchanged team for the World Cup final against the Netherlands on Sunday at Soccer City.
Striker Fernando Torres was again on the bench, with Pedro Rodriguez instead starting the match.
The Dutch made two changes, bringing back Nigel de Jong for Demy de Zeeuw and starting with Gregory van der Wiel instead of Khalid Boulahrouz. Playmaker Wesley Sneijder was again in the midfield behind forwards Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.
Spain will again rely on the midfield passing of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, with striker David Villa playing up front.
The Spanish, who are trying to become the third team to hold the world and European titles at the same time, have Iker Casillas in goal, with Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique and Joan Capdevila in defense.
Spain has won all three of its knockout round matches 1-0, and Villa scored in two of them. Puyol, one of seven Barcelona players in the starting 11, scored the lone goal in the semifinals against Germany.
Torres has yet to score at this year’s World Cup, while Pedro contributed well to the quick passing game that has helped Spain dominate in international football.
Villa and Sneijder both have a chance to win the Golden Boot award. Both have five goals so far at the tournament.
Sneijder can also become the first player to add the World Cup to his season tally of the Champions League, Serie A and Italian Cup titles with Inter Milan.
The Dutch, who have scored five more goals than Spain in South Africa, will again have Maarten Stekelenburg in goal, and Mark van Bommel and De Jong will protect the four-man defense.
Although the Spanish attack is regarded as beautiful, the Dutch can also shine when they dominate possesion and get the ball moving out to Robben on the wing.
Although he came into the tournament with a hamstring injury, the Bayern Munich forward has played well since coming on as a substitute in the final group match and starting the three games since then — including the 2-1 win over Brazil in the quarterfinals.
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