The 2010 World Cup finished with a final that was largely remembered for the wrong reasons: Spain and the Netherlands had been the two best teams in the tournament but we didn’t see the type of attractive football that was in evidence during previous rounds. Instead, it was a cynical affair, punctuated by yellow cards and a sending off.
However, the overall competition in South Africa was an exciting one set against a backdrop of a vibrant nation, embracing one of the biggest sporting events in their history. If you are wondering who won the World Cup 2010 in the end, it was Spain:
Spain World Champions – The Road to Victory
The host nation opened the tournament in positive fashion with a 1-1 draw against Mexico and had the honour of scoring the opening goal through Siphiwe Tshabalala after 55 minutes. Unfortunately, the South Africans couldn’t maintain their momentum and were eliminated after defeats to Uruguay and France.
Uruguay and Mexico progressed from their section but in Group B, Argentina were looking ominous after three straight wins over Nigeria, Greece and South Korea. Other form nations included Spain and the Netherlands who progressed from Group H and Group E respectively while Germany were efficient if unspectacular as they edged out Ghana.
Only Argentina and the Dutch managed to qualify for the knockout phase with a 100% record and it seemed as if they were the teams to watch in the next round.
Round of 16
Spain struggled in their opening group and that meant a tough round of 16 tie against near neighbours Portugal. It was always going to be a tense affair and the game was settled by a single David Villa strike.
Meanwhile, the Netherlands dominance in group E meant they had a relative easy match against Slovakia and the win was more comfortable than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.
The tie of the round saw Mexico comprehensively beaten 3-1 by fellow South American side Argentina while Germany looked especially dangerous as they demolished Fabio Capello’s England by four goals to one.
Europe were pitted against South American sides in three of the four quarter finals and the European teams recorded victories in each one. A brace from Wesley Sneijder helped the Dutch to beat Brazil while Spain needed David Villa again to score the only goal in a win over Paraguay.
Argentina against Germany looked to be the tie of the round and while everyone expected things to be close, the Germans hammered their opponents by four goals to nil. Meanwhile, the most controversial game saw Uruguay beat Ghana in a penalty shoot out after the Africans had missed a spot kick in extra time.
Germany looked to be the biggest threat coming into their semi final with the Spanish but once again, Spain triumphed with the narrowest of victories. In a tense encounter, defender Carles Puyol’s 73rd minute strike was all it took to divide the teams.
Meanwhile, Holland’s semi with Uruguay was a far more entertaining tie with the Dutch edging it by the odd goal in five. Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben scored the goals in a 3-2 win that saw the Netherlands through to their first final since 1978.
World Cup 2010 Final
The final between Spain and the Netherlands should have been a showpiece occasion to mark an entertaining tournament but it was marred by indiscipline. Referee Howard Webb showed the first of 14 yellow cards when he booked Robin Van Persie on 15 minutes but the turning point came after he sent off John Heitinga for a second bookable offence in extra time.
The Dutch couldn’t hold on and with four minutes left until the dreaded penalty shoot out, Andres Iniesta converted to seal the game. Spain had been more interesting to watch than that string of 1-0 wins suggests but while they were worthy victors, the final didn’t quite live up to excitement of the rest of the tournament.