|Event||2010 FIFA World Cup|
|Date||11 July 2010|
|Venue||Soccer City, Johannesburg|
|Man of the Match||Andrés Iniesta (Spain)|
|Referee||Howard Webb (England)|
The 2010 FIFA World Cup Final was a football match that took place on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, to determine the winner of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0 with a goal from Andrés Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra time. The match was marked by an unusually high number of yellow cards, mostly issued to the Dutch who were criticised for their rough play.
Both the Netherlands and Spain were attempting to win their first FIFA World Cup. The Netherlands had been beaten in the final in 1974 and 1978, while Spain's best performance had been fourth place in 1950. It was the second consecutive all-European final, and marked the first time a European team has won the trophy outside Europe.
Prior to this game, the Netherlands and Spain had never met each other in the main tournament stages of either a World Cup or a European Championship, the two major tournaments for European international teams. In all-time head-to-head results, the teams had met nine times previously since 1920, winning four games each and drawing once, in either friendlies, European Championship qualifying games, and once in the 1920 Summer Olympics.
It was the first time since the 1978 final that neither of the finalists had previously won the World Cup. The Netherlands were runners-up twice before, losing 2–1 to West Germany in 1974, and 3–1 to Argentina in 1978. Reaching the 2010 final was Spain's best performance in the World Cup, having previously finished fourth in 1950 when the tournament had a round-robin final stage, and the quarter-finals stage in 1934, 1986, 1994 and 2002, when single elimination knock-out stages featured. Spain became the 12th different country to play in a World Cup Final, and first new team since France in 1998. The Netherlands played in its third final without a win, surpassing the record it had shared with Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Overall, Germany leads with four final losses. It was the first World Cup final not to feature at least one of Brazil, Italy, Germany or Argentina. Spain became just the eighth country to win the World Cup, joining England and France as nations who have won it just once.
Before the match Spain had an Elo rating of 2111 points and the Netherlands a rating of 2100 points. Thus, the finalists combined for 4211 points, by far the highest for any international football match ever played, beating the previous record of 4161 combined points for the 1954 FIFA World Cup Final between Hungary and West Germany.
Route to the final
Spain entered the 2010 World Cup as the reigning UEFA European Football Champions, having won UEFA Euro 2008, and as the shared holders of the international football record of consecutive unbeaten games for a national team, spanning 35 matches from 2007 to 2009; they also won all 10 matches of their qualifying campaign. The Netherlands entered the World Cup having won all eight matches in their UEFA Group 9 qualifying campaign.
Once at the finals in South Africa, the Netherlands reached the knockout stage as winners of Group E, with three wins out of three against Denmark, Japan and Cameroon, conceding only one goal. In the knockout stage, they beat World Cup debutants Slovakia, five-time champions Brazil and two-time champions Uruguay. The Netherlands reached the Final in a 25-match unbeaten streak since September 2008.
In Group H, Spain recovered from a loss to Switzerland in their opening game to beat Honduras and then Chile, finishing top of the group ahead of Chile on goal difference. In the knockout stage, they then beat their Iberian neighbours Portugal, quarter-final debutants Paraguay and three-time World Cup winners Germany. The semi-final was a repeat of the match up for the UEFA Euro 2008 Final, and again saw Spain beat Germany, who were the top scorers of the 2010 tournament up to that point.
In the six games both teams played in South Africa to reach the final, the Netherlands scored a total of twelve goals and conceded five, while Spain scored seven and conceded two. Going into the final, Wesley Sneijder of the Netherlands and David Villa of Spain were tied as the top scorers with five goals each; Arjen Robben of the Netherlands with two was the only other player in the finalists' squads with more than one goal in the tournament.
|Slovakia||2–1||Round of 16||Portugal||1–0|
All but three members of the Spanish squad play for clubs in Spain; the other three are based in England. The Netherlands squad draws its players from clubs in five European countries, with just nine based in the Netherlands; six play in Germany, five in England, two in Italy and one in Spain.
The referee for the final was Howard Webb, representing The Football Association of England. He was assisted by fellow Englishmen Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey. Webb was the first Englishman to referee a World Cup final since Jack Taylor officiated the 1974 final between the Netherlands and West Germany.
A police officer from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, 38-year-old Webb is one of the English Select Group Referees, and has officiated Premier League matches since 2003. He was appointed to the FIFA list of international match referees in 2005, and before the World Cup, he had taken charge of the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2009 FA Cup Final.
At the 2010 World Cup, Webb refereed three games, all with Cann and Mullarkey as his assistants. In the group stage, he refereed the Spain–Switzerland and Slovakia–Italy games, and then took charge of the Brazil–Chile match in the Round of 16. In those three games, he never showed a red card or awarded a penalty, but he did issue the second highest number of yellow cards in the tournament, an average of 5.67 bookings per game. With fourteen yellow cards in the final (one red card to John Heitinga – twice yellow), he easily broke the previous record of six for most cards in a World Cup final, set in 1986. Nine of these Final yellow cards came in the first 90 minutes. Webb's total of 31 yellow cards throughout the tournament came to an average of 7.75 per game.
The Final was played on 11 July 2010 at Soccer City, Johannesburg. Spain defeated the Netherlands 1–0, after an extra time goal by Andrés Iniesta. The win gave Spain its first World Cup title. It was the first time since England in 1966 that the winners of the final wore their second choice strip.
The match had the most yellow cards awarded in a World Cup final, more than doubling the previous record for a final, set when Argentina and West Germany shared six cards in 1986. Fourteen yellow cards were awarded, and John Heitinga of the Netherlands was sent off for a second yellow. Nigel de Jong also delivered a studs-up kick to the chest of Xabi Alonso during the first half, but received only a yellow card. Some were of the opinion that the referee should have punished the Dutch player more severely.
The Netherlands had several chances to score, most notably in the 60th minute when Arjen Robben was released by Wesley Sneijder putting him one-on-one with Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas, but Casillas pushed the shot wide with an outstretched leg. Meanwhile, for Spain, Sergio Ramos missed a free header from a corner kick when he was unmarked. With a penalty shootout seeming inevitable, Jesús Navas sprinted into opposing territory and began a series of passes that led to Iniesta finally breaking the deadlock in extra time, scoring a half-volleyed shot after receiving a pass from Cesc Fabregas. Dutch captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst was substituted in the 105th minute by Edson Braafheid; Real Madrid midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who came on as a substitute for Nigel de Jong, took over as captain for the last few minutes.
Just before the goal was scored, the Dutch team had a free kick that hit the wall (clearly deflected off Fabregas) before going out. Despite the deflection which should have given possession and a corner kick to the Dutch, a goal kick was given to Spain, starting the play that led to the goal. The Dutch, however, momentarily had possession of the ball near the Spanish penalty area in between the goal kick and Iniesta's goal. Joris Mathijsen was yellow-carded for his strong protests to the referee after the goal, and other Dutch players criticised Webb for this decision after the match.
As the Spanish team descended the steps onto the pitch after receiving the cup, the Dutch team applauded them from a guard of honour.
| 11 July 2010|
|Netherlands||0 – 1 (a.e.t.)||Spain|| Soccer City, Johannesburg|
Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Man of the Match:
|Shots on target||5||8|
|Second yellow card & red card||1||0|
|FIFA World Cup finals|
|2010 FIFA World Cup|
|FIFA World Cup|