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World Cup 2010: Spain beats Netherlands 1-0

Goal in extra time clinches world title for Spain, in a game marked by rough play.

Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta, who kicked the winning goal in Spain's 1-0 victory over over the Netherlands in the World Cup 2010 final in Johannesburg July 11, 2010, holds the World Cup trophy aloft. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Spain became the eighth nation to win the World Cup by scoring a goal against the Netherlands in extra time. 

In a fitting end to a low-scoring World Cup, the Spaniards had to wait until six minutes from the end of the 30-minute overtime to score the final’s only goal, a blast from midfielder Andres Iniesta that Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg could only graze with his fingertips.

For the Dutch, the loss is the third in the finals after two crushing defeats in 1974 and 1978. But while past Dutch failures saddened admirers of the beautiful game worldwide, the current Netherlands team is unlikely to garner as much empathy. The Dutch side’s extremely physical style of play shows little resemblance to that of their predecessors.

“It was very tough, very rough,” said Iniesta immediately after the match. “And I think Spain deserved to win this World Cup. It’s something that we will remember. It’s something that we will enjoy and we are very proud.”

Another unlikely winner of Sunday’s encounter is Paul the Octopus, a cephalopod in Germany that for the eighth consecutive time correctly predicted the outcome of a World Cup match.

Spain now holds both the European and world titles after its victory in Vienna two years ago and is only the third team in history to do so. The feat rewards an exceptional generation of Spanish players.

Soccer’s biggest stage will now move to a more traditional locale as the 2014 World Cup will be organized by Brazil, the country with the most World Cup victories. Brazilians will count on home advantage to boost the chances of their side to win a record sixth World Cup. But for now, it is Spain that will savor its very first World Cup trophy for the next four years.

Read more GlobalPost World Cup CoverageUnlike its glorious forebears, this Dutch team has all but abandoned the “Total Football” philosophy where players switch positions seamlessly to promote fluid movement of the ball. Instead, the 2010 Oranje have relied heavily on a few outstanding talents whose outsized egos at times threatened the equilibrium of the team.

Arguably, the Spaniards are the closest thing to the Dutch sides that charmed soccer crowds in the 1970s. Barcelona, a club that has seen several Dutch coaches in recent years, provides much of Spain’s midfield, and Iniesta and Co. favor patiently built attacks over more opportunistic long-range shots.

In contrast to the Dutch team, Spain has shown remarkable unity with super striker David Villa repeatedly coming to the defense of his less effective teammate, Fernando Torres.

The 64th and final match of South Africa’s World Cup was preceded by a 30-minute closing ceremony during which spectators were urged to refrain from blowing their vuvuzelas.