Accessibility links

Spain Wins World Cup

  • Sonny Young

Spain has beaten the Netherlands, 1-0 in extra time, to win its first World Cup football title.

In a foul-plagued World Cup final, Andres Iniesta was the big hero for Spain. The Barcelona midfielder collected a sliding pass from substitute Cesc Fabregas and shot the ball past Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg in the 116th minute of extra time.

The Dutch tried to slow Spain's passing game with rough, physical play. English referee Howard Webb, a former policeman, showed eight yellow cards to Dutch players, and Dutch defender John Heitenga was sent off the field during extra time. But Spain received its share of yellow cards - five - making this what's being described as "the dirtiest" World Cup final in history.

Spain is only the third team, after Germany and France, to be world and European champion at the same time. With the World Cup victory, Spain snapped the Netherlands' 25-match unbeaten streak.

Dutch coach Bert Van Marwijk was gracious in defeat.

"They deserved to win; they were better," he said. "And in my opinion, Spain is the best team in the world for the last few years. I like the way they play, and it's a big challenge to play against Spain and beat them."

A crowd of more than 84,000 people attended the World Cup final at Soccer City Stadium. Overall, more than three million fans attended matches during the month-long tournament, making this the third most well-attended World Cup in history, behind Germany 2006 and the record-setting USA tournament in 1994.

Before the World Cup final kick off, a colorful 30-minute closing ceremony was held that featured fireworks, lasers, elephants and some of Africa's top singers and dancers. South Africa's former President Nelson Mandela, who will celebrate his 92nd birthday later this month, made a brief appearance after the ceremony, waving to the crowd from a motorized cart.

German star Thomas Mueller won two of the World Cup's top awards. The 20-year-old striker received the Golden Boot trophy as the tournament's top scorer, with five goals and three assists. Mueller also was named the Best Young Player in the competition.

Uruguay's Diego Forlan, who also had five goals, won the Golden Ball as the World Cup's best player. Iker Casillas of Spain, who made several outstanding saves in the World Cup final, won the Golden Glove award as the tournament's top goalkeeper.