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Fiesta in Spain, agony in Holland after World Cup final

sports Updated: Jul 12, 2010 04:29 IST
AFP
fifa2010

Spanish fans danced the night away in a joyous fiesta after their first ever World Cup triumph on Sunday, as silence fell across the Netherlands as the country again tasted the bitterness of defeat.

A thunderous roar erupted from a sea of the people dressed in red and gold in Madrid as Spain -- perennial World Cup underachievers -- lifted the trophy after a nailbiting 1-0 extra-time win in South Africa.

But in Amsterdam, where nearly 200,000 football fans dressed in orange had gathered to watch the match on big TV screens, there was a deadly hush as the final whistle blew.

"We are very proud and very happy, I thought it would go to penalties, Iniesta saved us," said Raul, 18, a Spanish supporter in Madrid. "We deserved it after winning the European championship in 2008."

The deafening sounds of cheering, klaxons, firecrackers and cars horns rang out as Spain won the trophy in their first appearance in the final thanks to a late goal from Andres Iniesta.

With temperatures hitting 37 C (99 F), more than 150,000 supporters watched the match on massive screens in a giant "fan park" in a one-kilometre (half-mile) stretch of Madrid's main thoroughfare.

At the final whistle, the crowd chanted "Spanish, Spanish, We are Spanish" and "Viva Espana", at the start of a fiesta that was set to last throughout the night.

Said Adolfo, 25, "It's an extraordinary feeling, of happiness and nerves."

Others crammed into bars or stayed home for the match, which left the country paralysed Sunday evening. Many were wrapped in the Spanish flag, wore the red team shirts or red wigs, or had their faces painted red and gold.

One young woman was disguised as an octopus, in tribute to Paul, the now famous clairvoyant cephalopod in Germany who predicted Spain's victory.

More than 2,000 police officers were on duty in the capital in case of incidents, along with medical teams.

Even in Catalonia, a region with its own distinct culture and language and which has traditionally been disdainful of the Spanish national team, there was excitement as around 75,000 people watched the game in Barcelona.

The crowd erupted with joy and waved Spanish flags, with many in tears at the historic victory. The scene was very different in the Netherlands.

As the final whistle blew, some of the estimated 180,000 supporters gathered in Amsterdam's Museumplein square rested their heads in their hands as the earlier festive atmosphere turned sombre and a cacophony of vuvuzelas suddenly died down.

Some cried, others sank down to the ground; many started leaving the square in grim silence.

The normally tranquil Museumplein was earlier transformed into a sea of orange with people in T-shirts, wigs, hats, flags and banners in the colour of the national team, nicknamed the Oranje Elftal (Orange Eleven).

Some had painted their faces, others wore lion suits or tails after the national symbol. There were orange rabbit's ears, orange clogs, orange hair, inflatable orange crowns and orange viking helmets.

Amsterdam officials had earlier urged people to stop coming to the Dutch capital as the city centre and Museumplein, with a maximum capacity of 100,000 visitors, filled up three hours before the match even started.