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Executioner Iniesta

World Cup dream dies for Robben and Co

Spanish superiority put paid to Bastian Schweinsteiger and Co in midweek, and now Netherlands men Mark van Bommel, Arjen Robben and Edson Braafheid have also yielded to the all-conquering Iberians. In the final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the 84,490 crowd at Soccer City in Johannesburg saw the Elftal and their Bavarian trio fall 1-0 after extra-time. Barcelona star Andres Iniesta netted with just four minutes of the additional 30 remaining, to hand Spain their first-ever World Cup triumph. For the Dutch, it was a third reverse at the last hurdle after defeats in the 1974 and 1978 finals.

Three FCB men in action

Van Bommel and Arjen Robben completed the full 120 minutes of an ill-tempered and rarely fluent match, while Braafheid replaced veteran Netherlands skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst after 105 minutes.

The Spanish opened strongly and initially penned the Dutch back into the final third with their celebrated passing game, but the aggressive Oranje restored parity as the first half wore on. Bert van Marwijk’s men tested the laws of the game to the limit at times, clocking up seven yellow cards and having Jonny Heitinga sent off for a second bookable offence with 11 minutes of extra-time to play. English referee Howard Webb also showed the Spaniards five yellow cards, more than double their total going into the match.

Robben’s missed chances

Spain continued to hog possession in the second period, but the best chance of a tense half fell to the Dutch. Wesley Sneijder released Robben for a clear run on goal after 62 minutes, but the Bayern winger saw his effort deflected away for a corner by Spanish shot-stopper Iker Casillas. No-one will ever know how the game might have unfolded had the Real Madrid stalwart not applied a toe to the Bayern forward’s shot.

Desperate to avoid the lottery of penalties, both teams went for the jugular in extra-time, but the only man to hit the target was cultured midfielder Iniesta. Sub Cesc Fabregas rounded off a brisk counter-attack with a pass to the unmarked Barca youth product, who sealed an ultimately deserved victory for the best footballing side at the finals with a thumping half-volley into the far corner.