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Vamos Espana

That Maarten Stekelenberg and Iker Casillas made the most telling contributions till four minutes short of two hours says enough about a World Cup final that was supposed to be a celebration of attacking intent, reports Dhiman Sarkar.

sports Updated: Jul 12, 2010 23:18 IST
Dhiman Sarkar

That Maarten Stekelenberg and Iker Casillas made the most telling contributions till four minutes short of two hours says enough about a World Cup final that was supposed to be a celebration of attacking intent.

Commiserate with Holland or celebrate Spain being the new world champions but about one thing there should be near unanimity: Sunday's match was a scrappy contest, bruising, cold and bleary like the night.

One where Carles Puyol and Nigel de Jong could have joined John Heitinga as those sent-off. One where the boos shouldn't have been reserved for referee Howard Webb alone.

Spain became the first team in World Cup history to win the championship after losing their opening match but they now also hold the record of getting there with the least number of goals in the finals — eight in seven games.

Such a goals-for-chances ratio could rankle a team fizzing with talent and dominating possession. Sergio Ramos was denied by Stekelenberg early and went over later with headers and the closest Spain came to scoring before Iniesta struck was hitting the side-netting thrice.

It is understandable why Vicente del Bosque chose to talk about “beautiful things.” But after steering Spain to where they won't be called underachievers anymore, Del Bosque said: “It was rough at times but that's part of football.”

Bert van Marwijk, the Holland coach, defended his team's rough tactics in a somewhat roundabout way.

“Let me put it this way, it's not our style to commit horrible fouls. It's not our kind of football. It was a World Cup final and people were tense. Look at the rest of the tournament. I think both sides, also the Spaniards, committed terrible fouls,” he said, after Holland ended up third time unlucky.

Only Stekelenberg, Wesley Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt avoided bookings among the Dutch who started. There were 14 in all including the second yellow card on Heitinga that led to the 109th minute send-off.

“It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were facing a very good opponent. Spain are the best footballing country in the past few years, so we needed to have a top day to beat them.”

Had Arjen Robben struck, the end would have justified the means.

Twice Robben had Casillas at his mercy and twice he was denied by the Spain skipper. Don't blame him for feeling like an island now.

Even while ripping into Webb, Van Marwijk accepted that the 'best team' won.

Just as he agreed that Robben could have made the result different. “Those chances from Robben could have meant victory but unfortunately we were not lucky,” he said.

Buoyed by the late arrivals of Cesc Fabregas and Fernando Torres, Spain were.

Both helped Iniesta score the match's only goal.

For Iniesta, who seems to have developed a knack for crucial goals --- remember the late volley that sent Chelsea out of the Champions League - “it was a small contribution in a very tough game.

“To win a World Cup is an indescribable feeling. This was our work that we started a long time ago, it was hard work but we're savouring this now,” Iniesta said.

Spain deserve their moment of glory, the bonuses and of becoming the reigning world and European champions. If only the final hadn't left neutrals feeling like they have chewed a lemon.