Sunday, 11 July 2010

World Cup 2010: Minute-by-minute guide to how Spain broke Dutch hearts at Soccer City

Sepp Blatter and Jacob Zuma hand over the World Cup. Spain are World Champions at last.

One Andres Iniesta goal in extra-time was enough. Not a great final, but a grand tournament in South Africa.

It ended with fireworks at Sun City... but we didn't have many crackers on the field. But hey, the football during this tournament has sometimes been peripheral to the main event. An nation emerging on the world stage.

Forget Spain 1 Netherlands 0, think South Africa won.

Oh, and Diego Forlan too. He walked away with the Player of the Tournament award for trying to lift Uruguay to glory single-handed. He also claims the Golden Boot... he tied on five goals with Miroslav Klose, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa, but he had more assists... three.

Vincente del Bosch nearly smiled there. The Spanish players are bouncing him. Dutch still struggling to come to terms with another World Cup final defeat. Now for the cup-lifting moment.

No wonder Arjen Robben's so angry. He had two one-on-ones to win it. Tears all over the pitch. Sneijder still my man of the tournament. But Spain did what I said they'd do. Crushed the life out of the Oranjes with possession. Did the same to Germany. Did the same all tournament. Apart from losing to Swiss in opening game. But credit to them... Navas livened things up, Iniesta man of the match before the goal.

FULL-TIME: Spain 1, Netherland 0. Iniesta gives the Spanish their first ever World Cup... and they hold the European Championship too. First side to do that since 1974 (Germany). Van Bommel complaining, Robben furious with referee Webb.

120 mins: Two extra minutes to play, another yellow card...I make that 14, five for Spain... and Holland must accept a third World Cup final defeat after 1974 and 1978. Torres, who played a part in the goal, pulls up injured.

116 mins: GOAL. SPAIN WIN THE WORLD CUP. Andres Iniesta scores, short range effort, well struck, Mathieson booked. Only Sneijder, Kuyt and the goalkeeper remain uncautioned. Iniesta booked too.

114 minutes: Sneijder, the free-kick specialist with five goals in the tournament, sees a deflected goal-kick go just wide. The World Cup, the golden boot, everything rested on that.

110 mins: Yellow for Van der Viel. Eleven yellows, eight for the Oranjes if you count Heintinga's double. A total of 40 shown in previous 11 World Cup finals.

108 mins: And finally, after nine yellow cards, it's a red for Dutchman John Heitinga, he gets the Zinedane Zidane treatment in a World Cup final with Spaniards waving their invisible cards again.

105 mins: Fernando Torres, apparently struggling with his knee, on for five-goal David Villa. Golden Boot will probably be shared unless Sneijder scores.

HALF-TIME IN EXTRA-TIME: and still we wait. Nice run from Fabregas but it comes to nothing. He and Robben have had the clear chances. Holland bring on Edson Braafheid of Celtic for his World Cup finals debut.

99 mins: Rafael van der Vaart to offer a second wind for Holland, De Jong off.

95 mins: GREAT CHANCE: Iniesta superb ball for Fabregas, Stekelen gets his left leg to it. Just like Casillas denying Robben earlier. Then Dutch go close from corner... it's got to come.

93 mins: Appeals for penalty as dozens of Spaniards fall in the box. Webb's right. It's a corner. And it comes to nothing.

FULL TIME: And for the second time since the tournament began, it's a goalless World Cup final after 90 minutes. Here comes extra-time. Now who was it told you Spain beating Germany in the semi-final was a dreadful result for this tournament? I know Holland have been little better, but history will show the Spanish in this tournament were stultifying. Even if they snatch it. And they probably will.

88 mins: Spain have 56 percent of the possession. But that's what they do. Keep it. Sideways, backwards. Only Navas and Iniesta forge forward.

86 mins: Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas on for Xabi Alonso. Please Cesc, show us some magic.

83 mins: Just as Spain look like they're going to squeeze the life out of the Oranjes, Robben breaks with pure pace but Casillas takes it off his toes. Robben booking No9 for complaining about Puyol's efforts to slow him down.

77 mins: MISS OF THE MATCH: Ramos, free header, no pressure... puts it over the bar from perfect corner. Needs to cut his hair. Or is it the headband? Spain look the more likely.

69 mins: Oh Jesus! Navas cross, Villa denied by Stekelenburg. Great chance. Navas looks lively. Holland take off Dirk Kuyt for Eljero Elia.

66 mins: Capdevila the eighth yellow, Spain 3, Netherlands 5. What a load of rubbish. Not ref Webb's fault... Spain induce niggle, it's the way they win.

61 mins: CHANCE OF THE MATCH: Sneijder sends Robben away, in the clear, but Casillas gets a trailing leg to the finish. Great save from the Spanish captain.

59 mins: Jesus Navas on for Pedro. Torres was warming up though.

58 mins: 84,490 people have spent a lot of money getting here. 700 million around the world are bored. This is terrible... Spain have ruined this World Cup, with a little help from the Netherlands.

55 mins: David Villa goes down, judging by his reaction he may have lost a leg. But Heitinga becomes the fifth Dutch caution, seventh of the night. Amazingly, Villa seems okay now.

53 mins: Dutch captain Gio van Bronkchorst gets a caution in his final game before retirement. That's six, lots of Spaniards waving imaginary yellow cards. It's awful.

48 mins: Spain start fast again, register their second corner. No subs at half-time.

HALF-TIME: Apart from the early Ramos chance, Spain have rarely threatened. Holland managed a late Robben effort. Two saves, a bizarre moment when Dutch nearly scored inadvertently... and five yellow cards. Even worse than I predicted. Spain have this knack of ruining any game with their pedantic build-up and frantic flopping at every challenge. Mind you, as I said at the time, De Jong should have gone for his karate kick into the chest of Xabi Alonso.

46 mins: Aarjen Robben finally draws a proper save from Spain's Casillas in first half injury time.

42 mins: Wesley Sneijder catches Busquets. Both go down. Webb has a long chat but no sixth yellow card.

38 mins: It's become a bore war in South Africa. Spain hold the ball well but their build-up is so painfully slow. Neither side look likely to score. If only Germany had beaten the Spanish, we'd have had a game.

33 mins: Bizarre. Carles Puyol hurt. Dutch try to give the ball back to Iker Casillas... and Van Der Wiel's hoof bounces over his head, gets a touch, nearly goes in. Then Van Persie gives corner back to Casillas. Biggest thrill of a very ordinary first half-hour.

28 mins: Now Manchester City's Nigel De Jong gets the fifth yellow card. Boot in the chest of Xabi Alonso. Nasty. Referee Webb making his mark for England but he's struggling to keep things civil. This is not a great World Cup final.

25 mins: Van Bommel booked for foul on Andres Iniesta. Then Ramos ups the niggle with a card of his own. Four from Webb so far. Reach for record books.

23 mins:But in the tournament so far, Spain have picked up just four yellow cards, Netherlands 16. Robben weaving his way through. Orange corner. Needs a first half goal.

16 mins: Now that's a proper yellow. Carles Puyol, who practices yoga, clumps Arjen Robben. 1-1 on bookings.

14 mins: Robin van Persie is Webb's first booking. Second mis-timed tackle. But Capdevila goes down like he's been shot. Sure he'll be okay.

10 mins: Ramos again. Making things hairy from right back. Narrow angle, cleared for a corner. Then into the side netting from David Villa. It's all Spain.

5 mins: Maarten Stekelenburg makes first big save of the final. Sergei Ramos must have thought his header was on the way in. Spain on top.

3 mins: Pedro, from the Canary Islands, looking lively. Must know Spain have scored just 7 goals here. Nobody has ever won the World Cup with less than 11 (England in 66, Brazil 84). Holland already have 12.

Dutch kick-off. Pennants exchanged, president Jacob Zuma shakes all hands available. Hope he doesn't come across the pitch invader in the tunnel. Could be trouble. Two sides, no previous victories. It's going to be special whatever happens.

Security have removed the pitch invader who tried to grab the World Cup. Just as well really. Wouldn't be the same without a trophy! Anthems. Moving moments. No vuvuzelas.

My old pal Neil Ashton on the News of the World says English referee Howard Webb checked up Iker Casillas's shorts while the teams were in the tunnel. Guess he's got to be thorough in the land of Caster Semanya!

Dutch captain Gio van Bronckhorst's last game. Mark van Bommel's biggest challenge. Signs that Robin van Persie was starting to find his form in the semi-final. But Spain have the best midfield you'll ever see... no room for Cesc Fabregas. Says it all.

CONFIRMED: Liverpool's Fernando Torres didn't even take part in the warm-up. Rumours that he spent the last three days largely in an oxygen chamber at the Spanish base in Potchefstroom appear to be true. The knee had surgery on in April is clearly still a problem.

Mysteriously, Nelson Mandela's appearance only gets the briefest of shows on SuperSport and SABC, South Africa's two live World Cup channels. He looked fine next to his wife, Gra├ža Machel on the back of a golf buggy thing. Is it a political thing? This was the big moment of the World Cup... very strange.
Anyway, back to the football: Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel de Jong return from suspension to replace Khalid Boulahrouz and Demy De Zeeuw in the Dutch team, Spain unchanged from their semi, Pedro in for Torres. Erm... even after his refusal to pass to his out-of-form team-mate in the semi-final against Germany? Word here is that Torres has spent most of the week in an oxygen chamber at Spain's Potchefstroom base... his knee's not right.

Teams arriving. In Amsterdam, they've told fans not to come to the city. Too many supporters gathering at Museumplein.

Question is, after all this, a glittering opening ceremony and Nelson Mandela's long-awaited appearance, how does the final ever match what we've just seen?

Netherlands: 1-Maarten Stekelenburg; 2-Gregory van der Wiel, 3-John Heitinga, 4-Joris Mathijsen, 5-Giovanni van Bronckhorst; 7-Dirk Kuyt, 6-Mark van Bommel, 10-Wesley Sneijder, 8-Nigel de Jong, 11-Arjen Robben; 9-Robin van Persie.

Spain: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Sergio Ramos, 3-Gerard Pique, 5-Carles Puyol, 11-Joan Capdevila; 14-Xabi Alonso, 8-Xavi, 6-Andres Iniesta, 16-Sergio Busquets; 18-Pedro, 7-David Villa.

Referee: Howard Webb (England)

Breaking news: Fernando Torres left out of the final. Pedro will start for Spain. Nelson Mandela is just emerging on to the pitch on a caddy cart. Brilliant.

And so it begins. The beginning of the end. The closing ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. Quite breathtaking. And I don't just mean Shakira, the adopted Colombian, belting out Waka Waka, the World Cup anthem.

Stunning FX being played out on the pitch at Soccer City, the only stadium I've only known to get a spontanteous arrival when you arrive and see it from the Rea Vaya coaches bussing us in.

Now Ladysmith Black Mbazo (Mbazo means axe), the male choir made famous by Paul Simon's Gracelands album in 1987.

This is going to be some night for a nation, a continent, some said would never be able to host a World Cup...

Nelson Mandela, too frail to attend the opening ceremony after the tragic death of his grand-daughter on June 11, is rumoured to be on his way. He will "greet the fans" for 15 minutes then go home to watch the final between Spain and the Netherlands.

The graphics continue to stun.... but how about this from South African president Jacob Zuma? "When we won the rights to host the World Cup, we knew that working together we would be able to succeed. But what has happened has exceeded our expectations. That is because of the role played by our people, the South Africans. They are the stars and champions of this tournament."


  1. I enjoyed every word in this article. This is fantastic! Thank you.

  2. Thanks Quin. In retrospect I was a little gentle on the Dutch... guess it was all the Spanish diving and waving of imaginary cards...

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