[SPAIN-NETHERLANDS] Spain won the World Cup for the first time when it beat the Netherlands, 1-0, on Andres Iniesta's goal in the 116th minute. Both teams had their chances to win the game before Iniesta's goal, but much-anticipated final was marred by 14 yellow cards -- a record for a World Cup final -- and one red card. Here's what we liked and didn't like about the Spain-Netherlands game ...
What we liked ...
-- Spain had the edge in possession and initiative, if not better chances, but didn't score until Iniesta's goal. Iniesta, Spain's most dangerous attacker in the game, was the deserving hero, teaming up with his former Barcelona academy teammate Cesc Fabregas for the game's only goal. Fabregas picked up Rafael van der Vaart's failed clearance of Fernando Torres' ball toward the area and fed Iniesta, whom van der Vaart kept onside and who scored with a side-volley past Dutch keeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
-- Spain won the World Cup for the first time and became only the second team to win the World Cup after capturing the European Championship two earlier. (West Germany won the 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup.) It's been a marked team ever since its win over Germany in the Euro '08 final, and its only losses since then were to the USA in the semifinals of the 2009 Confederations Cup and to Switzerland in its opening game at the World Cup.
-- The young Spaniards were overcome up emotion after Iniesta's goal. Even before the game ended, goalie Iker Casillas could be seen crying. After Iniesta's goal, he removed his jersey to reveal the message "Dani Jarque siempre con nosotros" ("Dani Jarque always with us") on his shirt in tribute to Dani Jarque, who suffered a heart attack and died in his hotel while on preseason tour of Italy in 2009. The Espanyol defender grew up in the Spanish national team system with Iniesta and so many of the young Spain players.
-- For those keeping score, Octopus Paul finished the World Cup with a perfect record of eight for eight in World Cup predictions. The "Oracle of Oberhausen" correctly picked Germany's demise against Spain in the semifinals and Spain's win over the Netherlands in the final.
What we didn't like ...
-- The Dutch strategy of breaking Spain's rhythm by fouling in midfield turned the game into a cardfest. The game featured 47 fouls, 14 yellow cards -- a record for a World Cup final -- and one red card to John Heitinga in the second overtime. Their display in the final will take much of the shine off their run of six straight wins to the final.
-- The Dutch lost the World Cup final for the third time, but they won't be remembered as the sympathetic losers they were in 1974 when the great Clockwork Orange team lost to host West Germany after scoring in the first minute and in 1978 when the Oranje (without Johan Cruyff) almost came from behind to beat host Argentina at the end of regulation.
-- In a tournament marked by low scoring, the lone out-and-out strikers -- David Villa for Spain and Robin van Persie for the Netherlands -- were non-factors in the final.
-- Spain finished with only eight goals in seven games, making it the lowest-scoring team to ever win the World Cup. It won all four knockout matches by 1-0 scores.
-- The 2010 final was only the second final to end scoreless after 90 minutes. The only final to go to a shootout after finishing 0-0 was the 1994 final won by Brazil over Italy.