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Spain worthy winners on a tough night for Webb

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Paul Fletcher | 07:37 UK time, Monday, 12 July 2010

World Cup 2010: Johannesburg

Tears poured from the face of Spain captain Iker Casillas at the sound of the final whistle - but there was no sadness from the goalkeeper, only joy. Andres Iniesta's goal four minutes before the end of extra-time had given the Spanish their first World Cup triumph - and there is no doubt that they deserved it.

They might have lost their opening game but they won the six that followed and conceded just twice in the entire tournament. They may have scored a mere eight goals - the lowest tally ever by a trophy-winning side - and won all their knock-out games 1-0 but this was no repeat of Greece in Euro 2004, no attempt by a limited team to pack their midfield, stifle their opponents and strike on the counter attack.

No, this Spain team moved the football and teased their opposition with intelligence, skill and technical brilliance. They did it until their opponents could no longer resist the passing and probing of a team that treated the ball as its friend, even the much-reviled Jabulani.

There was no finer example of that than Sunday's final encounter at Soccer City. The Netherlands left nothing on the field after a performance that saw them harass and harry their opponents but Spain enjoyed 60% of the possession and gradually ran their opponents into the ground.

It was not a major surprise that, apart from Sergio Ramos's early header, Vicente del Bosque's side created most of their openings in the latter stage of the contest.

The timing of Iniesta's winner was also consistent with Spain's manner of victory in the knock-out stages of this competition. They scored after 63 minutes against Portugal, 82 against Paraguay, 73 against Germany and 116 in the final. They passed their opponents into submission before delivering the decisive blow.

Just look at the statistics. Going into Sunday's match, Spain completed 3,387 passes, with Xavi alone executing 464 of them and Gerard Pique, a central defender, totalling 378. The Netherlands, in contrast, managed 2,434.

Spain deserved to win this World Cup, as Iniesta claimed after the game, but this was not a classic final, far from it. The first half was extremely disappointing.

There was a definite niggle between the two sets of players - and plenty of theatrics. Robben was particularly guilty, both in the way he protested against decisions and the manner in which he went to ground.

The Netherlands were obviously intent on stopping Spain, although Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk insisted his players stayed within the law. "It is not our style to commit horrible fouls, it is not our kind of football," he pleaded.

Nine bookings and a red card for defender John Heitinga tell a different story, although Marwijk laid some of the blame at the door of referee Howard Webb, the first Englishman to take charge of a World Cup final since Jack Taylor in 1974.

The 38-year-old Yorkshireman set a new record for a World Cup final by issuing a total of 14 yellow cards during the contest.

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There is no doubt that he made a few mistakes. He should arguably have given Nigel de Jong a straight red in the opening half after the Manchester City midfielder floored Xabi Alonso with an absurdly high boot to his opponent's chest. Dutch enforcer Mark van Bommel could also have been sent from the field for repeated fouling, including a crude scythe on Iniesta that resulted in a booking.

But it was Webb's display in the final few minutes that really infuriated the Dutch, in particular his failure to award them a corner when a free-kick took a sizeable deflection off Fabregas. Webb gave a goal-kick instead - and within a minute, Spain scored.

At the final whistle, the official was surrounded by complaining Dutchmen, with Robben briefly suspending his crushing disappointment to run towards the official, thereby joining several team-mates in close proximity of the referee.

Yet Robben might be better served contemplating how he missed a gilt-edged chance to put his side in front in the second half. I thought he was his team's most threatening player but, after collecting a wonderful defence-splitting pass from Wesley Sneijder, he could find no way beyond the excellent Casillas.

It was a real head-in-hands moment for the ex-Chelsea player - and the camera cut back to him several times over the following minute, each time capturing an image of disbelief.

It came as no surprise when Webb was roundly booed by the Netherlands supporters as he collected his medal but the Dutch had a plan to stop a superior team - and that plan was always going to bring the referee into play.

But enough about Webb. Let's now focus on the match-winner: Iniesta.

I am a huge fan of the 26-year-old midfielder, who is not only a gifted footballer but also, it seems to me, a man of huge integrity.

After scoring the goal that gave Spain victory, he removed his top to reveal a T-shirt with a hand-written message on it. We have seen plenty of these down the years but this one struck me as being particularly memorable. It said: "Dani Jarque: siempre con nosotros". It means "Dani Jarque - always with us" and refers to the Espanyol player who died at the age of 26 on a pre-season tour last year.

Espanyol are city rivals of Barcelona but Iniesta was a team-mate of Jarque's with the Spanish Under-17, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 teams. The two men were great friends and Iniesta was greatly upset by Jarque's death.

Iniesta's gesture was without doubt my favourite moment of the final. It told me that Iniesta and his team have a style and class that transcends their footballing ability.

Without question, Spain are worthy champions.

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  • Comment number 1.

    No flow to the game with all the free kicks, some bad fouls, some awful finishing, £30 million pounds for 1 footed players, diving, moaning. Isn't football great!

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the dutch have nothing to complain about they could have been down to 9 men which would have meant extra time would not have been played.Not a great final but the best team won.Well done referee on a very hard game to referee well.

  • Comment number 3.

    Iniesta is fast establishing himself as one of the greatest midfielders/players to have ever lived. His partnership with Xavi is second to none.

    The player is something special to grace the football world.

  • Comment number 4.

    I’m deeply ashamed, Webb had a bad game. Altough the Dutch played hard, Spain also deserved more cards. Iniesta had to be sent off after being fysical without the ball! Before the goal the Dutch deserved a corner, anyone could see that, but not ……..Webb. The goal shouldn’t have been allowed, the first pass was clearly off-side! It’s time for “Hawkeye” in soccer!
    May be the Spain deserved to win because of their technical en tactical play, but Holland deserved a fair referee. The Netherlands had to play rougher to compensate their shortings.

  • Comment number 5.

    The cynical Dutch got exactly what they deserved, and this is from someone who backed them to win it before the tournament at 11/1. Van Persie should have been booked in the first minute, while De Jong and Van Bommel (surprise, surprise) both should have walked along with Heitinga.

    As for their whingeing over the corner they didn't get, yes it was a corner. But it's not as though Spain boke away from it and scored. The Dutch had another attack and lost possession because the substitute Elia tried to win a free-kick and lost the ball.

    Well done Spain, a deserved win for a great team who had to put up with negative opponents who knew they would lose playing fair.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thought the BBC were extremely biased in favour of Spain, and the article above mentioning Robben's theatrics is lazy journalism based on the player's past reputation. Indeed, Iniesta spent far more time throwing himself on the ground than any other player. The ludicrous tumble that he took to earn the second yellow for Heitinga was embarrassing and should be condemned: it should also be contrasted with Robben staying on his feet when hauled back similarly by Puyol and earning nothing for his honesty. Difficult game to referee but Webb was as poor as he has been most of the last domestic season. Failing to spot the deflection off the wall of the Dutch free kick (and Casillas's touch too) was laughable - and of course easily preventable by using technology. Yes, the best footballing team won but the Dutch team have every right to feel very harshly treated by the game's key moments.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm pretty sure "Dani Jarque: siempre con nosotros" means, 'always with us'.... And "Webbs been payed", you are a very sore loser. Iniesta in no way should've been sent off for shouldering a player off the ball. Happens all the time. And you're trying to complain about the official? De Jong should've gone for that horrific tackle on Alonso... Van Bommell is a disgrace with his late tackles!! And the first pass was not offside, because, if you knew the rules, he wasn't interfering with play until the 2nd pass. So learn the rules. Spain won, the ref had a good game and you are a sore loser.

  • Comment number 8.

    Awful game. The Dutch got to the final by falling over. Robben and Sneijder have been falling over nothing their whole careers. Last night it didn't work out for them. Now the spoiled little kids will blame the ref, but in the end they lost because they deserved to.

  • Comment number 9.


    There is no way the winner was offside - that has been proved from every angle of replay. The Dutch lost because of their (strategic?) indiscipline reduced them to 10 men. Not because of an admittedly poor decision on the goal kick.
    It seemed to me that Robbens constant harrassing of the officials was symptomatic of the fact that the Dutch had set themselves up to destroy Spain and hopefully intimidate them into non action. When this didn't work he and his team mates became more and more frustrated.
    Spain worthy winners. Netherlanbs worthy runners up. Webb, couple of decisions wrong, but overall handled the game well.

  • Comment number 10.

    #4 watch the replay - no Spanish players were offside in the passage of play that led to the goal.

    I've seen a lot of discussion about bias towards Spain in the decisions, and yet most neutral observers consider the Dutch lucky that they didn't have two players sent off in the first half. Webb was as lenient to NL as he could have been given how they decided to play and I think he deserves a bit of credit for at least trying to keep it eleven v eleven in such a global show piece final.

  • Comment number 11.

    Seems to me there wasn't much made of Iniesta's performances this world cup before the match. All the talk was of Forlan, Muller, Villa and to a lesser extent Xavi. Then Iniesta scores the winning goal and immediately the BBC (its pundits and journalists)label him the player of the tournament.Hmmm...

  • Comment number 12.

    With all respect to yur views, I am sorry, Mr. Fletcher, you are almost horribly off the mark. In terms of Neutrality, even more so. This article smells of Spanish support. Not a single word has been mentioned of an incredible Dutch performance, which showed exactly why they deserved to be in the final.
    In terms of theatrics, I believe the Spanish are no less. In replays, even though there might not be the slightest contact, Iniesta seems to read the challenge well and go down accordingly dramatically. The only reason, these might have been overlooked by people is because he is so 'gifted', he can't be possibly blamed in that department.
    About the mistakes, you seem to have mentioned only the ones which outrightly favour the Spanish. You've mentioned the Van Bommel challenge on Iniesta, which was nothing more than mistimed. Yet Iniesta's reaction was unavoidably a bookable offence. The even more contentious decisions were the refree NOT awarding a corner to the Dutch (which everybody in the stadium knew was wrong) before the eventual Spanish goal, the hairline offide of Iniesta in the buildup to the goal, and who can forget, the BLATANT LAST MAN FOUL by PUYOL. IF THAT ISN'T A MISTAKE, NOTHING IS.
    I Think Mr.Fletcher, you need to concentrate more on seeing both sides of the coin, rather than thinking about the greatness of Iniesta.

  • Comment number 13.

    Totally agree with you Blip2097......

    HUGE INTEGRITY to describe any of the players on show last night is so far off the mark. I saw one team trying to stop the other playing and the other realising that they weren't going to succeed resort to diving and trying to get players sent off at every opportunity. Just like in the champions league semi - Barca v Inter.

    This is what the modern day game is all about - Overpaid, over-hyped, spoilt cheats who do will anything it takes to win.

    I feel sorry for Webb because I don't think any referee could have done a better job last night. So often the referees are accused of not getting decisions right but when you have 22 players trying deceive them it's no wonder they get some things wrong!

  • Comment number 14.

    Yes it was a poor game but that was down to the inability of the Dutch, not that they are a bad team, to cope with Spain or match them tactically.
    The right team won this tournament through composure, skill and precision, something Arjen Robben should have contemplated when running 40 yards to berate a linesman and something he and others in his team should reflect on before giving excuses for their failings.
    Howard Webb had a good game in what must have been a grim task for a referee. Anyone that has reffed at any level, officially or as a favour, knows that its hard to keep up with everything. The Fabregas deflection and De Jong high kick aside I though Webb did a good job. The bookings were fair though most replays of 'fouls' highlighted the lack of honesty in the most skilful of players who were ready to accentuate falls following merest contact. Any player that does that puts a mark on the game.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm no fan of Howard Webb, but I honestly don't think any (current) ref could have managed that game better. The approach of the Netherlands meant he had no choice but to brandish the cards he did, and even then, he was being extremely lenient. If anything, the Dutch should be thanking him for letting them all stay on the field for so long, not complaining that he and his assistants missed a corner!

    As for the Spanish goal, the replays they showed on the BBC seemed to show that the first pass was not offside.

  • Comment number 16.

    The Dutch didn't have the bottle to go out and try win the game. Their tactics seemed to be to try and get a sucker goal which they should have got through Robben. I've nothing against Dutch football because they have produced some cracking teams in the past. But this lot were hopeless and on last night's performance shouldn't have been in the final. They were awful and I hope we've seen the last of them for a good long while.

  • Comment number 17.

    I thought Howard Webb did well given the circumstances. Both teams were going down like it was a production of 'Bambi on Ice' and I thought he did himself and his country proud in most cases. There was only one incident where he reacted to another theatrical Broadway-esque Villa appeal and booked Van der Wiel (i think it was) for a tackle that he clearly didn't see. The occasion may have slightly got to him here i think.

    As for Spain, I'm very happy they won. They have played some beautiful football throughout the tournament, building from deep and not fearing to play themselves out of danger. I like the fact as well that Casillas (and Victor Valdez for Barca) very rarely kick the ball upfield, but pass it short to Capdevilla or Ramos, and build an attack from there. The midfielders look to pass forwards or sideways and again very rarely kick it back to the keeper (as England seem to spend msot of their time doing).

  • Comment number 18.

    I thought Webb was fantastic in a pressure cooker environment that could have degenerated into a fiasco as a result of the Dutch game plan.
    Sure he made a couple of mistakes, an offside goal was not one of them or the free kick Elia was looking for. Webb kept the game going by being exceptionally lenient with de Jong, Van Bommel and Iniesta.

  • Comment number 19.

    I started watching wanting the Dutch to win but ended up hoping Spain would do it... the Dutch played like a lower league team of thugs and never started actually playing football. Webb was generous in not sending 2 of their players off but overall despite there obvious corner (perspective?) I thought he had a good match and as a Spurs fan I'm not Webb's biggest fan!
    All officials get decisions wrong in a match (Lampard's 'goal' anyone?) and unless we switch to a 'challenge call' system like in tennis this will always be the case. At the end of the day, based on how the teams played, the better team won.

  • Comment number 20.

    I really, really didn't want Spain to win this final and my reason for being averse to their recognition as World Cup champions has been epitomised by the likes of Paul Fletcher in this blog and Alan Hansen throughout the final's broadcast.

    First off, let me state that I think La Liga is far and away the best league in the world. The quality of domestic Spanish football far supercedes any alternative. Contradictory to the mindless observations of Spain's admirers in this tournament, however, they have been completely unable to translate that onto this stage.

    They've passed. The statistic that you mentioned here with regard to their completed passes attests to that. Their passing is NOT, however, progressive. Pique's pass completion rate is testament to that. In every single one of their matches, with the exception of the humiliating defeat to the Swiss in which they had no choice, they've casually passed the ball square at the back. Constantly.

    Xavi is another one - he never, ever seems to lose the ball which, in my opinion, makes him probably the most coveted player in the world. His pass completion rate in this tournament was immense. How many of them were actually played forward as Fabregas demonstrated when he came on?

    They don't pass the opposition into submission, they bore them. The Dutch were cynical in the game, for sure. But look at their attacks throughout the game and how well they were structured in comparison. They were swift, flowing and integrated. In extra time, Fabregas made a rousing run which would materialise as Spain's only entertaining attack.

    Spain played well in their opening game and were extremely unfortunate to lose. But following that, they settled. The margin of their victories is a testament to that. Did they thrill in any one of their matches?

    Villa carried them. They would have faltered a lot earlier in this tournament without him. People talk about Sneijder as the carrier of the Dutch without realising that without Villa, Spain would probably have failed to win every one of their matches on route to the final. They had an impeccable defence (disregarding the concession of the most embarassing goal of the tournament) but no other consistent match winners.

    Spain have now been written into the history books as a World Cup winning side that that "moved the football and teased their opposition with intelligence, skill and technical brilliance." Who can deny that the Germans were far more befitting of that description? In all honesty, it is more applicable to Uruguay than it is to Spain.

    The result was dramatically altered by Webb's only mistake of the tournament and I was just as incensed as the Dutch at the final whistle.

  • Comment number 21.

    #4 obviously watched a different game. The goal was on side.

    Agree with most comments.

    I think its all to easy for the Dutch to blame Howard Webb for the goal.Dutch were cynical in the 1st half and extremely lucky to have 11 men on the pitch at half time. I thought the ref had a good game, he tried to let the game flow, but the Dutch had other ideas.

    At the end of the day, had Webb sent off De Jong in the 1st half, then the game would have been over and for a show piece event he probably had that at the back of his mind (any other game and De Jong probably would have been red carded). I think he was damed if he did and damed if he didnt. Personally think it would have been a hollow victory, had Spain won against 9/10 men, and thats how the final would have been remembered. Instead it will be remembered for a great late goal. At least Webb was consistent, becuase Inesta could have been red carded for his off the ball incident.

    Best team definately won.

  • Comment number 22.

    I thought webb had a good game. Very hard game to handle considering the methods in which the Dutch played (I thought they were better then that)and Spain were 'dirty' at times.

    The fact that Webb referees in a league which is faster and more physical allowed him to try and let play go on. I think most of the other refs would have sent more people off and ruined it as a showpiece event.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's morning here in Holland and the hangover is still blurring the vision of the Oranje hordes. There's very little comment here about the tactics Holland deployed to stop Spain playing or the Robben miss but plenty of bile directed at Webb. It might surprise some people to learn that such cynical tactics are not uncommon in Dutch football or that Dutch supporters are not overly concerned with tripping, ankle tapping, shirt pulling or pushing. They share the same view as Thierry Henry; it's the referee's responsibility. But God help the referee if he decides to actually intervene. Holland should be ashamed but instead they will greet their spoiling team home as heroes. Ah for the days of Cruyff and Krol.
    Well done Spain. Deserved champions.

  • Comment number 24.

    The Spanish were deserving winners. But they have also been a bit lucky. Throughout the tournament they have struggled to score goals, and it nearly cost them dearly in the final.

    Xavi and Iniesta are great midfielders, but Spain will not be a great side until they find a Zidane or a Messi - a player who can carve open the best defences.

  • Comment number 25.

    #6 and #12.

    I couldn't agree with you more. The BBC's favouritism towards the Spanish became, and still seems to be, almost sickening. I had to switch over after the game because I couldn't bear to listen to Hansen et al spouting on any more. The half time "punditry" was a joke. It consisted of slating the Dutch and praising the Spanish. To be honest, I thought in the run-up to the final, Spain played some very very average football. One dimensional and lacking in ideas, it was far from what I expected to see from them. But listening to the BBC coverage, you'd think Spain hadn't put a foot wrong all tournament.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why should the Referee try to avoid giving red cards-just because it's the Final? Such an attitude just encourages the negative, destructive football played by the Dutch. Had the karate kick been deservedly punished with a red card the game would have been the better for it.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm sure Webb meant the best. But he was particularly lenient on Iniesta, which riled me. In my personal opinion, what he did (some 14 odd cards) was the best way he could have controlled the game. It was very obvious there were going to be cards, because of the high pressing games of both sides. He tried his best. His only mistakes were the glaring ones, Offside and Last man foul. He controlled the game otherwise, perfectly.

  • Comment number 28.

    It was proved conclusively by TV replays that the goal was correct and was NOT offside.
    I feel sorry for the Dutch. They have stained their reputation by trying to clog(!!) the Spaniards off the pitch. Rather than attack Spain they played a very defensive and negative game. They deserved to lose and the poor sportsmanship shown during and after the game towards Webb has lost them alot of credibility and respect.
    Webb's big mistake was not sending the Dutch player off for the karate kick. Well done, Spain, worthy winners.

  • Comment number 29.

    Worems (post) - I've tweaked that. Must admit I thought I'd nailed that one.

    Honestly, apart from the Puyol/Robben incident, can the Dutch really have any complaints? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 30.

    Howard Webb is now going to be all too predictably vilified for his handling of the match, but he was in an almost impossible position. He tried, in vain, to keep the game flowing and although clearly at least two Dutch players should have been sent off in the first half, he cannot be blamed for being aware of the occasion and wanting to give the players every chance to actually play some football and make it a final to remember (for the right reasons).

    Sadly, the Netherlands clearly had no intention of doing that and they proved themselves to be unworthy successors to the great Dutch sides of the 1970s. It seems quite ridiculous to me that the Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has now criticised Webb for his handling of the match. The only people who should take the blame are van Marwijk and his players. It was a disgraceful performance.

    The best team and the right team won – but football is and has been for some considerable time a long way from being the “beautiful game”.

  • Comment number 31.

    To add to my previous comment about the BBC 'pundits' apparent and ridiculous bias, this from Hansens view on the final:

    "Anyone with the best interests of football at heart would have been overjoyed to see Spain beat the Netherlands to lift the World Cup.

    They are an absolute delight to watch and justice was served at Soccer City.

    If the Dutch had of triumphed, it would have been bad for the game because there is no place for the way they approached the match"

    An absolute delight to watch? Have I watched a different team the whole tournament? Seriously?

  • Comment number 32.

    Webb had a mare but its not the Dutch who have any case, its the Spanish. It was an awful performance, a typical Webb bottle job. Hansen was right (for once) about the cynicism of the Dutch, should have been down to 9 or 8 well before Heitiga was shown a red. The thing is anyone who has follwed Webb this season knew he wouldn't cope well with this game.

  • Comment number 33.

    I put a bet on Holland to win before the match started but I was quite pleased to lose my money after the way they played. Yes Webb made some mistakes but it was an impossible game to officiate and every player out there made mistakes as well. Why should Webb be the only one criticised? Robben's only moaning so much because he's trying to deflect attention away from his own performance and the miss he made when one-on-one with Casillas.

    Shame as no-one really covered themselves in glory last night, except possibly Casillas who has shown on plenty of occasions why he's rated as being one of the top keepers in world football. But while Webb may not have been perfect Van Marwijk should take some blame for the poor match as well for setting van Bommel and De Jong up to kick the living daylights out of the Spanish players. Van Bommel should have gone for persistent fouling, I don't think 5 minutes went by without him having a kick at someone. De Jong's foul on Alonso was pretty dreadful and although Iniesta made the most of Heitinga's pull he deserved to go. Having said that Puyol should really have gone for the pull on Robben, although that would have given the Dutch the advantage and I wouldn't have liked to have seen them win in the manner they did. I wasn't always overly-excited by the Spanish approach, personally I felt the German team played the most exciting football over the month. But I certainly enjoyed the Spanish approach more than I did the Dutch approach. It was the first really bad-tempered match I saw in this World Cup and it's a real shame it was the one saved for the final.

  • Comment number 34.

    I feel really sorry for Howard Web this morning. He had to umpire one side that were hell bent on stopping the other by kicking their opponents off the park and a side who who tumbled to the ground waving imaginary cards at the merest hint of contact. I hope FIFA step in and show a little support for the officials (and I DON'T often say that!) because some of the the behaviour and simulation was not a great advert for the game last night which is still being allowed to carry on this morning. I thought that surrounding or berating the officials, waving imaginary cards, simulated fouls and dangerous play had been outlawed....apparently not.

    Sep Blatter is a strange and selfish individual, so I am guessing FIFA will retreat to their air conditioned bunker and hope that all the furore about technology, simulation, refereeing standards will all blow over, as normal.The Dutch DEFINITELY need a bit of 'wind your necks in' advice

  • Comment number 35.

    Mr Webb was poor from start to finish, he missed obvious red cards on both sides, he was inconsistent in the awarding of free kicks, he missed basic decisions such as the Holland corner that came off two Spanish players, he failed to see Puyol deliberatley interfere with Robben as he was in on goal and then had the arrogance to book him for complaining. The fact that the best team won is irellevant when the biggest sporting occassion in the world is destroyed by an inept referee. How many times has he made basic errors this season? Carling cup final? Jermainne Defoes disallowed goal against Liverpool? Enough is enough.

  • Comment number 36.

    If this had been a PL game, with Arsenal being Spain, and Stoke being Holland, then the media would have been dominated by articles on the only way to play Arsenal/Spain is to get into their faces...'they don't like it up them', and if Stoke/Holland were successful you would have the likes of Hansen and Shearer going on about it being a contact sport, etc. But no, when it comes to talking about Spain, reasoned opinion goes out the window.

    Quite happy to highlight the negative points of Holland, but never any detailed analysis of Spain's failings when it comes to 'sportsmanship'. They must practice waving imaginary cards as part of their warm down routine, along with feigning injury at the slightest contact, something which Robben is always slated for, but Busquets, Capdevila and Ramos also do on a regular basis.

    The best team did win, but a balanced approach to the failings of both teams would have been nice.

    As for Webb, can't blame him for handing out the cards. That's what happens when aggression meets play-acting.

  • Comment number 37.

    Already the arguements are well rehearsed, Dirty Dutch, beautiful Spain. Looking at the game coldly, Spain were poor as were Holland, but Holland had decided to play that way Spain had for much of the game been outfoxed, okay, kicked off the park.
    Spain were guilty of some poor challenges too, and Puyol should have gone for pulling back Robben.
    The most disappointing thing was Webb, he bottled the Van Bommel challenge. This should have been red, if at that point he had vanquished the Dutch number six, I'm sure that the game wouldn't have descended into the semi farce it did. Spain most likely would have won convincing with the extra man based on their retention of the ball. The fact that he then had further chances to dismiss a Dutch player legitimately, first De Jong and then Snejider further dismissed his performance. De jong was just reckless and Snejider look carefully as no one really made a big thing about it, it was a poor poor tackle.
    In the end I was a little upset for the Dutch, they played a game to win the game based on their opposition and it has to be said in the most part, it worked. I bet most people felt if it went to pens, they'd have won.

    So in the end we got a perfect example of this world cup. Most games have been fairly uninspiring, sprinkled with a few decent individual and team moments, and the officials have missed or been unprepared to punish many poor challenges with the card they deserved

    This world cup won't live long in my memory

  • Comment number 38.

    Can someone at BBC please point out to Alan Hansen what an absolute hypocrite he is? During the Premier League season when Arsenal are kicked up and down the pitch, he floats comments like: "If you let Arsenal play they'll kill you with their passing. You have to get stuck in. Let them know you're there. It's a physical game. It's the only way you can play them". Last night he couldn't condemn the Dutch enough for their physical style of play when arguably they were playing in a manner which they thought would give them the best chance to win the game (and almost did).

  • Comment number 39.

    Robben only has himself to blame - that must be the first time in his career he hasn't gone to ground, and he was perfectly entitled to!

    The fairly exciting extra time should not make us forget that for 80 or so minutes it was a very poor match indeed, both teams using their own brand of negative tactics and everyone else in the world yawning.

    The turning point came when Fabregas came on (has anyone mentioned that?); until that point Spain had looked toothless and the Dutch were undeservedly still in the game.

    Webb had about as good a match as could be hoped for under the circumstances.

  • Comment number 40.

    At the start of the game last night I couldn't decide who I wanted to win. The dirty Dutch tactics soon made up my mind for me. I can't stand cheats. Well done Spain.

  • Comment number 41.

    I thought Webb was poor not only did he miss the deflection that went for a corner I thought FIFA said that when opposing players waved for an imaginary card trying to get bookings they were supposed to be booked the spanish were doing it all the time and Webb did nothing. When Puyol pulled Robben it is alright playing advantage but if that comes to nothing you should take play back for the free kick. Webb 2 out of 10

  • Comment number 42.

    That's the point. At the end of the day the better team won. I though the sending off was a little theatrical but considering what went before Holland can't complain. Van Bommel being one very lucky player.

    Everyonenis raving about Iniesta, rightly so but Xavi was again fantastic last night. Particularly later on, he started to dictate the game.

    Webb did well in the game, couple of errors but at the end of the day the result feels right to me.

  • Comment number 43.

    feel very sorry for Howard Webb. He had a good world cup, but the final was extremely difficult for anyone to referee. naturally the Dutch are blaming him for their loss - maybe they should look at their tactics and the way they approached the game if they want to know why they really lost.

    it still sickens me that the players dive around and cheat the way they do (yes you, Mr Robben) and then wave their hands at the ref asking for cards to be produced. and then at the end, they COMPLAIN at the amount of card produced !!

  • Comment number 44.

    I may of wanted Holland to win but in the end the better team won.

    The Dutchies don't really have any right to moan about Webb, it was clear he was trying very hard not to send any one off in the WC final but the Dutch players could of easily been at the very least 1 player down come half time.

  • Comment number 45.

    The Dutch were disgusting! Well pleased for Spain - deserved Champions!

  • Comment number 46.

    One of the worst performances (if in fact not the worst) by a referee in a World Cup final fitted in perfectly with a final that will stand as the worst ever.

    Spain are the most unimpressive winners in World Cup history. That they've produced neither the golden boot nor the golden ball winner says it all.

  • Comment number 47.

    This game had everything to remind us why we watch rugby instead. Blatant cheating from both sides putting the referee in an impossible position. Spain were less bad than the Netherlands so deserved to win, but both teams should be ashamed if that is the best they can produce. How on earth does football remain so popular after the dross we have witnessed in the past 5-6 weeks?

  • Comment number 48.

    #6 - Your strange reflections on the match echo those I've already heard from many Dutch fans - Jordi Cruyff on 5Live this morning was particularly embarrassing to hear. The Dutch went out with the most basic of all footballing philosophies: if you know the opposition are better than you, then foul them. Personally, if I was Robben or Schneider then I would feel aggrieved that my own team/manager didn't feel I had enough quality to beat the opposition fairly. Those players are plenty good enough. As a relatively expendable player for the Dutch, it was telling that Van Persie was dropping deep and committing fouls so early in the game - it seems evident that he was acting on instructions. A yellow for Van Persie wouldn't have hurt the Dutch cause at all.

    As many have pointed out, Holland were luck to have both De Jong and Van Bommel on the pitch at half time. How they can complain about the referee ruining the game is absurd. No-one wants to see a ref so prominent in a match (least of all, I imagine, Howard Webb), but he did well to not back down from bringing out the cards when others may have been intimidated by the occasion and kept their hands in their pockets.

    Strangely, I'm almost more disappointed in the Dutch than I was in England. This final should have bene a great game. Robben and Schneider have enough talent to stretch a great Spanish side. It ended up little better than an amateur game in the ethos in which it was played. The tournament needed a stand out game and it should have been the final. Thanks to the Dutch side, it will only be memorable for being the first African World Cup.

  • Comment number 49.

    I am astonished to hear that the Dutch complained about the refree and that some describe Spain as 'poor'.

    Spain play some of the best football to have been played by any national team in any era.

    Look at their passing moving, commitment. Every player is capable of dribbling and putting precise passes that almost no other player sees.

    The Dutch were too aggressive commiting some horrible foul. It reminds me of 1962/1966 treatment of Brazil (well I mean of the footage I saw, I am not that old).

    the Ducth should thank Webb for giving them two life-lines by not sending off De jong and Van Bomel in the first hald, which they would have thoroughly deserved.

  • Comment number 50.

    Some of the comments here are as biased as the commentators I had to listen to during the final, and I'm Australian. Halftime was 15 minutes of telling us the Dutch weren't playing football and Spain's beautiful game was a joy to behold.
    What a load of rubbish. The Dutch played the way they thought could upset the Spanish midfield and it almost worked. Referees are always going to be reticent to use red cards in a final. This was not an exhibition match, this was the World Cup Final, yet so called commentators wanted the Dutch to play free flowing football thereby playing into Spain's hands and losing 4-0.
    Spain were boring throughout the tournament, 19 million passes does not make a beautiful game. I would rather watch the Argentinians or Brazilians for thrilling football

  • Comment number 51.

    dip88, #20, you should consider taking over Mr.Fletcher's role.

  • Comment number 52.

    I though Howard Webb showed a lot of patience with the players and gave them every opportunity to stay on the pitch. A lot of yellow cards instead of red sending off cards. It could have been down to a five-a-side final with a much less tolerant referee.

  • Comment number 53.

    While Spain were definitely the more positive team last night, please don't make them out to be something they're not. They have an inability to convert chances into goals and surely a cutting edge is one of the most important characteristics of a team. And please don't start about Fernando Torres's poor form ... the player is very vulnerable to injury - don't forget that Rafa Benitez was criticised for 2 seasons for not having an adequate back-up to Torres.

    Also, in terms of play acting, the ultimate award must go to Spain for the way they managed to get Costa of Portugal sent off in the second round match. True champions should not have to resort to such cheating.

    Unfortunately that seems to be the way World Cups are won now. Leave out the baiting of Zidane in the 2006 final - does anybody remember the way Rivaldo play-acted in the match against Turkey during the 2002 World Cup ...?

  • Comment number 54.

    "Spain completed 3,387 passes" -- so what? This is the most overrated piece of statistical information about this Spanish team. It should always be qualified with the fact that about 75% of those passes were over a distance of approximately 5 inches. Spain, especially at the World Cup, displayed a dull style of football designed to stifle opponents -- and viewers: the game against Germany nearly put me to sleep. Scoring seems to be somewhat of an afterthought as well, a necessary evil required to chalk up victories -- eight goals in the whole tournament? Somebody should remind these overpaid gentlement and their cynical coaches that the purpose of football used to be to entertain viewers, not just to make fortunes.

  • Comment number 55.

    Let's face it: Holland was a complete disgrace for football and this team no way is going to be remembered. If only they tried not to play football... Their tactics was only horrible tackles to stop the game, made by different players in turns and with the certainty the ref would not send off anyone in the final. Should the ref have his job well done, the Dutch would have finish 8 men. And it's completely cynical they put the blame on the ref = bad losers. This is not what I expected by a Dutch team.

    Spain made it, not with the best football ever seen, but struggling agaisnt park-the-bus teams, and for those with a knowledge of football, that is a tremendous effort and the sign of truly champions. It is only Germany that faced Spain with the greatness of a 3-times world champion. And so we all could enjoy a big match. Yes, they lost, but they left a good taste.

    For the game we all have to thank Spain won.

  • Comment number 56.

    I thought Howard Webb had a very good game. I think talking to players when certain moments of the game were very heated and he certainly showed understanding of the magnitude of the game and occasion by not providing red cards for Van Bommel and De Jong. I think for these 2 players to criticise Webb is bad sportmanship and lack of respect for the game in general.

    Have to agree with most of the posts on here about bias towards Spain. Can't believe pundits and journalists alike feel that Spain are the 'saviour' of football. If Spain hadn't won the World Cup, it hardily would've been a disaster. Some of Spain's play was good at times, but I think if Van Marwijk had brought Elia earlier, the game may have been different as Spain were scared to death of Robben's pace and I feel he missed a trick there. Think the Dutch were just there to stop Spain playing. I think De Jong's comments about waiting for a penalty shootout shows how desparate the Dutch got.

    Overall I don't think the World Cup was a classic by any stretches of the imagination. Not even Spain's triumph can gloss over what haas been a poor World Cup in footballing terms. What the World Cup has highlighted is lack in depth of quality that most of the 'big' nations have for e.g England/Italy/France/Portugal/Brazil.

  • Comment number 57.

    Webby and the others did very well in the face of some of the most cynical play I've seen in a long time. The Dutch persistently sought to stop the Spanish by physical means and apart from missing the full meaning of the De Jong challenge, and getting the corner/goal kick at the end wrong (for which error everyone not Dutch gives thanks!) They did a superb job.

    When are players going to just go out and enjoy playing? I think the disaster for this world cup was when Brazil went out - somewhat cynical themselves, but they had nothing on the Dutch.

    All those who were so happy when Holland beat Uruguay should now be eating their words! Now, that would have been a good FOOTBALLING final.

  • Comment number 58.

    I think Webb did really well overall - he made the best of a bad lot. This is the showpiece game for the sport and it could have descended into farce and disgrace had so many players received the red cards they deserved. But that is not his fault, it is the fault of the players and coaching staff for wilfully flouting the rules of the game (more specifically the Dutch - especially the disgusting attitude of van Bommel and the one-off viciousness of de Jong). Webb made sure the game was played to completion, no mean feat, and fortunately the right team won.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am surprised to see that several contributors are still denying the superiority of Spain's football. I could watch their instant control and slick passing all day long - they make England's over-paid and over-hyped incompetents look like pub footballers.
    Torres was the only Spanish player to let a pass bounce off him, Rooney style - maybe he has been playing in England too long?

  • Comment number 60.

    the dutch should be ashamed of themselves.disgrace to football.
    they ruined the final everyone was looking forward to by kicking spain players up and down the to howard webb,he could have finish the game after half an hour by sending 2 dutch players off.yet they have the cheek to attack him after the final whistle.
    even the ones cheering for holland turned against them after their stop the spain play at any price,means kick them all over.
    i dont understand how can some people say holland tactic was ok.
    did you see de jongs karate kick?van bommel leg breaking tackle?

  • Comment number 61.

    #27 and 51 - Hrishikesh - you are obviously a very very biased Dutch fan - your team were luck to have 11 men at half time - which would have rendered any decisions Webb got wrong against the dutch - ie Puyol's pull, the corner not given - completely irrelevant as Holland would have been beaten by 5 or 6 in normal time! Everybody has also massively failed to acknoledge Webb's lenience to Van Persie and Robben - who should quite clearly have been given second yellow's for kicking the ball away when they were through one on one, but offside!! Webb did a fantastic job (and believe me, I've been massively critical of him at times, but he is without doubt one of the best ref's around, if not the best, and has had a fabulous tournament. Much credit to him. Van dirty tactics says he didnt control the game, on the contrary, he controlled it fantastically, as it could easily have become a farce.

    Spain, worthy winners - never resorted to long ball hoofs to try and win, and got their reward (although I agree the BBC's pundit's were shameful in their OTT praise, seemingly forgetting they went for 70/80 minutes of some of their games without looking like they could score in months!).
    Holland, kicked their way to the final - see Van Bommel v Brazil and Uruguay - and got exactly what they deserved - defeated. I'm glad they feel that they have been robbed too - means that they'll suffer just that little bit more I hope!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Am not and have have never been a football enamorato, but I believe that the English referees where fair,they let the game flow. I take my hat off to Mr Webb and colleagues. Love the Dutch but was very very very disappointed by their behaviour. Thank God it is not a proper image of what they are really like as a nation, just awfully expensive players hoping for more money if they had won. What a pity. Why is it called the "Beautiful Game"? Could somebody let me know. I am an ignoramous on this quote.

  • Comment number 63.

    Congratulations to the Netherlands. In one evening a complete betrayal of everything that made Dutch football great, supplemented by true world champion style hypocrisy. Well done!

  • Comment number 64.

    I am embarrased to say that I am from the same town as Webb who many believe should be punished for his school boy mistakes. Giving a goal kick rather than a corner just prior to the goal changed everything and he should be ASHAMED. As for Alan (Scottish) Hansen - he should understand the purpose of the game better before he makes comments about what is disgraceful. I thought the idea was to win. What does he know? His country never won anything.

  • Comment number 65.

    Getting "Stuck in" is one thing - it means closing down and tackling hard (but fair).

    What Holland did was simply try and physically damage their opponents.

    I'm a ref - and I don't know any ref who would have done better given what was being done out there.

  • Comment number 66.

    The Dutch were a total disgrace. Their 'st*pid' coach DARES to criticise Mr Webb. If it had been some of the refs in this competition - the game would have been over at half-time because the WHOLE of his dirty Dutch side would have had red cards!!
    He should reflect - and then RESIGN - Disgraceful!

  • Comment number 67.

    I'd be amazed if football is in a better shape post-World Cup than it was before it. Virtually all the household names failed to perform, and Spain did a very "passable" impression of Italy with four consecutive one-nil wins in the KO stages. If that is the way to play the game (the chant "Boring Boring Arsenal" kept coming to my mind) then I'm a Dutchman!

  • Comment number 68.

    With all due to respect to the Dutch fans and Mr. Robbens, what are their thoughts on de Jong and Van Bommel? The Dutch played like a bunch of hoodlums and in my opinion deserve to lose for that game. The key was to disrupt the flow of the Spanish game and that could easily have been done without pushing and kicking. In case it is felt that there was no other way than to get physical, then the Dutch were clearly the less deserving side any way, ergo, they deserved to lose.

    They can also learn a lot from the very impressive (and very young) German side. The grace and temperament shown by die Mannschaft was amazing even after their disappointing loss to the same team.

  • Comment number 69.

    total anti football.. forty years of dutch footballing heritage ruined in 120 minutes.. how cruff, kroll, and van basten must be cringing.. the netherlands may not have won the world cup but as far as most were concerned had a reputation as high as the mighty brazilians.. that has all evaporated now.. i feel sorry for webb.. the pinacle of his professional career and he ends up refereeing bolton versus arsenal.. i started the game wishing the dutch would win (being the underdog).. but over time this evaporated culminating in van bommels disgraceful ball return into the corner (i've never seen that in football in my life.. not even from the italians).. van bommel at least wins something.. the world cups' dirtiest player
    spain win.. good triumphs over evil.. almost harry potteresque..
    come on netherlands. we expect better

  • Comment number 70.

    Rather than criticizing the referee, Bert van Marwijk should have thanked him for giving Holland a chance to win the world cup.If it was a less practical referee he would have reduced Holland to 9 men for some of the savage fouls they committed during the first half.It seemed the dutch wanted to stop Spain by hook or by crook.They were a shadow of the their great teams who graced football in the seventies. Before the game I was hoping that Holland lifts the cup but they lost my respect.

  • Comment number 71.

    The Dutch should think again before criticising Webb's decision not to send Puyol off. In any other match, they would have been down to 8 men at the final whistle and as a consequence the extra time they were playing probably wouldn't have occurred.

    The game in general summed up the World Cup: anti-climactic. Spain were a bit sloppy by their own standards, Holland just hacked for all of the game and it totally ruined it as a spectacle. At one point in the first half it felt like the whistle was blown for a foul every 10 seconds.

    Spain are the best team in the world and are worthy winners. If Holland had won it on penalties it would have been a travesty.

  • Comment number 72.

    When a team comes into a match with the intention of kicking the living daylights out of opponents, then whatever they get at the end is fully deserved. the worst match of the tournament for me was the QF between Brazil and Holland. The Dutch were able to frustrate the Brazilians bcos the Brazilians were not psychologically tough. De Jong should have had extended ban added to a red card but Webb's leniency has prevented that. I commiserate with Robben on the "Puyol pull" , but y didnt he go to ground? Funny that a notorious diver chose the only legitimate oportunity not to go to ground. Spain are worthy winners!!! And for Howard Webb, he did quite OK, though he missed some, but the errors were not one sided.

  • Comment number 73.

    Interesting that the "unsporting" Dutch player Robben deliberately waved his players away when Casillas conceded a corner from a returned ball & then slid the corner straight to Casillas.

    The BBC commentary & studio team were so biased it was unbelievable. No comment on Iniesta's dive to get Heitinga sent off, no comment on the fact Ramos should have received a straight red for professional fouls in both semi & final.

    Howard Webb did fairly well until the last bit. The corner that wasn't was NOT the big issue-how could he not see the foul on Elia;TWO Spanish defenders just block him off together-that's legal on the gridiron possibly, not on a football pitch. And up the field they went & scored through the gap their diving had created.

    I only wish the 3rd place match teams had won those semis-I suspect Germany & Uruguay would have played in the Final on Sunday as they did on Saturday;both wanted to play football throughout the knockout stages & any team that wins the World Cup with 4 successive 1-0 victories is NOT an entertaining one.

    Let's just hope they get knocked out of Euro 2012 & WC 2014 before the Finals-that'll give Hansen & co something to weep about.

  • Comment number 74.

    While the Dutch were lucky to have 11 men on the field for as long as they did, I feel that the theatrical tumbling from the Spanish was disgraceful. I also feel that any player who waves an imaginary card at the ref should get a straight red card.

    I also believe that when they eventually bring in technology, there should be an option for both teams to refer up to 3 instances per game for review, when a dive was made and not punished, with retrospective yellow cards applied to each instance when no or minimal contact was made.

    The reason we have no dribbling footballers any more is that no-one stays on their feet long enough to complete one. The game is slowly drifting towards players simply running at the defence and trying to win free kicks whenever they are within 5 yards of the opposition.

  • Comment number 75.

    Good to see Fletcher continue the BBC's pro-Spain propaganda and bias epitomised by the drivel spouted by Shearer, Hansen, Lineker and co last night. If you believed what they said, you'd have thought it was the Brazil side of 1970 v Wimbledon's crazy gang out there, rather than a boring, sideway passing, overrated Spain side who bored other teams to submission (8 goals in 7 games in by far the worst outlay for a World Cup winning side) and had to rely on a lot of luck to get to the final against average sides such as Paraguay.

    Yes, Spain keep the ball well and deserved to win the final, but that in itself isn't very entertaining if you don't actually create chances - for me, the Spain side are far inferior to the side that won the European Champs two years ago. I enjoyed the exciting and spirited football of Germany, Argentina, Uruguay, much more than Spain - it's a shame one of those teams, who brought pace and attacking flair to the tournament could not have deservedly won.

    Also, the BBC made a huge deal of the Dutch's strong challenges, but nothing of the constant diving of their wonder boys Iniesta and Xavi and the constant cheating and fouling of the long haired old woman(or "hard man" as they call him) Puyol. Yes, De Jong may well have been sent off for the lunge on Alonso and Van Bommel could easily have got two yellow cards, but what about Puyol's tug on Robben as he was through on goal - a clear professional foul and red card (you don't have to dive on the floor for it to be a foul!) and the constant diving and whingeing of Xavi and Iniesta, as I say.

    I think the BBC have been found guilty of falling for worship of the Spanish star names (which the pompous and pretentious Press/Media have done in the past for Brazil and Barcelona in the club game). I think regardless of how Spain performaned pompous twits like Hansen and Shearer would be waxing lyrical about their performance and we'd have heard the same twaddle whether they won, lost or draw, or played well, badly or averagely (the were the latter) - what a disgrace their bias, propagnda was last night.

  • Comment number 76.

    The dutch played a good tactical job against a superior football team,however they should have been down to ten men after the shoalin style soccer de Jong showed. Webby babby must have been unsighted!

    If the dutch had tried to play more football than footchest or footlegs they would have been murdered by a team that are well deserved World Champions. Well done Spain

    The Cephalapod God he no lie all hale for Paul the Octopi

  • Comment number 77.

    Very sad to see HOLLAND sink to this level, no one but themselves to blame so it would appear you're in a large minority LD

  • Comment number 78.

    I hope the Spaniards send Webb a replica medal because he earned it with them. FIFA should shoulder much of the blame for Webb's poor performance. On what grounds was he chosen over the Japanese referee who officiated the Holland vs Brazil game? Referees should earn points and it will be interesting to know how Webb came up as the top referee at the world cup because as far as the EPL goes he had a very baaaaaaaaad season.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ post 50. The Spanish style of play is not just mindless passing to hold onto the ball, it's about building up positional play which creates free players or extra space. But it doesn't stop there, they also win the ball back quickly. Plus they have a depth of substute talent which changes their game plan(Llorente, Navas, Cesc) and what's more scored a match winner in the semi-final from a well rehearsed set piece. This to me sounds like a multi-dimensional attacking team (not to mention there defense which only let in two goals the entire tournament).
    Did you actually watch Brazil play in this tournament? Under Dunga's instructions there were ultra conservative and when put under pressure after going behind against Holland they fell apart and starting incessant fouling.

  • Comment number 80.

    Every team that reaches the final, deserves to be in it. Don't speak about the complaining from Robben, without mentioning the Spanish players asking constantly for cards (Iniesta, Puyol). How can you not have respect for a team that has not lost for 25 games in a row. Did they created that run with poor football, I don't think so. Has anyone seen the QF Paraguay-Spain? Poor performance as well, that doesn't mean that they didn't deserved their place in the final.
    The question is: what was worse, the fysical approach of the Dutch, or the constant diving and begging for cards from the Spanish.

    Doesn't matter hey! Spain are good champions, but don't disrespect the Dutch...

  • Comment number 81.

    "Honestly, apart from the Puyol/Robben incident, can the Dutch really have any complaints? I don't think so."
    You mean apart from the blatant corner that wasn't given just before the goal and not to mention the foul on Elia, which was blatant obstruction. Maybe if he rolled around abit more, or made the fall abit more dramatic (something which the Spanish are very good at) the free kick may have been awarded.
    Yes the Spanish just about deserved to win in the end but you can't deny that these incidents clearly affected the outcome of the match or just simply ignore them. In such an important game with emotions running high the Dutch have every right to feel aggrieved.
    And as for the BBC punditry after the game, well the less said about that the better. It was embarrasing to listen to.

  • Comment number 82.

    I dont think the dutch came out of this final more popular than they went into it. The dutch, for me, have always been a popular team globally with a reputation for playing great football and playing the game in the right spirit.

    Whether the tactics were deiberate or whteher it was just a series of mistimed tackles in line with an aggressive approach to the game, the more dissapointing thing for me was te way they berated and moaned at the officails from start to finish.

    To surround the referee at the final whistle and berate and attempt to intimidate him aqnd his two fficials the same way as hey has attempted to intimidate Spain's midfield reflected a lack iof discpline, a lack of respect and embarrasssed Holland on the worlds biggest stage. for me this took the gloss of what trhey have achived this world cup. At times they were equal to the hugely imprdessive spaniards and actulaly had chances to win the game insiode 90 minutes. I certainly wont be cheering on holland in any future wneatral world cup encounters. The whole squad and in particualr the coach, robben, van bommell and mathjison.

    While the TV technology debate rumbles on, i cant believe the people that govern the game are not doing more to address behaviour to bring integrity, fairness and sportsmanship back into the great game. people should be helod to account and punished heavilly for not playing the game in the right spirit.

    The dutch should be ashamed of themsleves..

  • Comment number 83.

    I notice an incredibly strong corelation between a team that loses & condemnation for the match officials, coincidence? I think that FIFA should bring the Dutch Manager & half of their team up on charges to be honest! And, while he's busy condemning everyone, I suppose he better have a go at Robben for missing two sitters hadn't he? Seems to be keeping quiet on those ones. It's much easier to blame the Ref than look at themselves. Shame on Holland, I have to say. In a lot of cases you can lose the battle & still win the war. Unfortunately, Holland managed neither last night.

  • Comment number 84.

    A couple of (well several actually) comments from a Dutchman who lives in England!

    Am I dissapointed YES
    Are Holland bad losers YES (Taking part does not count.)
    Did the right team win YES
    Can the Dutch complain about the referee NO
    Are the Spanish equally adept at 'falling over' YES

    That's silly arguaments settled then;-)

    What is interesting to me is the number of positive comments about Spain and their style of play. Last night, Holland played an aweful brand of football, tactically it worked (almost!) and was obviously utilised to disrupts Spain's game more than promote their own.

    That said it was very much an English style of play, most of the late and cynical challanges would not even get a free kick in Premier League. Yet the get stuck in, get about them, give them a kick attitude seems not be what people want anymore given the admiration being heaped on the Spanish over here.

    I think thats good thing, lets hope it brings about a change in English football and lets hope Holland never have to resort to that sort of play again.

  • Comment number 85.

    Howard Webb was a disgrace, the perfect example of the problems concerning English football, LACK OF VISION and NO TALENT. Spain off course is the best team but we gave it everything and if Webb wouldn't have been so blind in the end we might have won it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Amused how all those contributors here who believe that Webb had a bad game write from the perspective of how he favoured Spain! Having started watching as a neutral, although perhaps slightly favouring Holland, with memories left over of cheering them on in the '74 and '78 finals, I was desperate for Spain to win at the end. Yes, Spain were not always angels, but apart, surprisingly enough from the efforts of Robben, the Dutch team tactics were cynical from start (literally, ref. Van Persie) to finish. Yes, there should have been a corner before the goal, but equally, how can anyone argue against the proposition that the Dutch should have been down to 8 men, at the most, by then - As well as Heitinga - De Jong? Van Bommel? They should be thankful Webb was so lenient, and not be criticising him for 'favouring Spain'

  • Comment number 87.

    Webb was useless - how did he miss the deflection for the Dutch corner? Iniesta should have been booked for constantly brandishing an imaginary card, and for retaliation on Van Bommell, De Jong should have gone, and Puyol should have gone - i mean really we say Robben should have gone down to get the foul, what does that encourage? surely a decent ref can play the advantage then go back to the original incident, bad refereeing encourages divers, if you dont exagerate a foul you dont get a decision - useless he should hang his head in shame!

  • Comment number 88.

    The reason the final was so bad is because Webb didnt send off a Dutch player earlier. Had he had the bottle to do so the game would have been far more open.
    Also the reason Iniesta got a little theatrical is because he was getting hacked down every few minutes. There is no point breaking your leg by trying to ride some dirty tackles.
    You should also remember Robben should have been sent off for kicking the ball away when he was offside as he had already received a yellow card.

    The reason Webb had a bad game is because he was not strict enough on the Dutch. This then let them know they could do what they like and they ruined the match. On the other hand had he sent off 3 Dutch players ~(which is not a stretch of the imagination) we would have had a ridiculous final and he would have been abused for that.

    So overall I think he had a decent game. However, he should have been tougher on the Dutch in the first half (perhaps red for De Jong) and then the Dutch might have relaxed the dirty play.

  • Comment number 89.

    The plaudits given to the Spanish team by the BBC during the final was biased beyond belief.

    This has been one of the dullest World Cups I've ever seen. I can't remember one game that I would call a classic.

    The football played by Spain typified the tournament, where we saw too much of the "Anti Football" as derided by Arsene Wenger.

    The general tactics used in the tournament by teams, seemed to be based around stopping the opposition from playing rather the teams expressing themselves. Jose Mourinio has alot to answer for.

    Were Spain a worthy winner ? A team that can rule the world by only scoring eight goals - Not a great advert for football.

    Millions of pounds are spent selling the "beautiful game" to us, and dressing it up as a thill a minute, but the reality is as seen at this World Cup, winning ugly beats total football.

  • Comment number 90.

    With out a shadow of a doubt the best man on the pitch was Howard Webb.

    It was as if he was a nursery nurse looking after two teams of little naughty kids. Where as he could have sat many on the naughty step he decided to give them the benefit not for those players but for those of us watching what is supposed to be the top game.

    A more cruel person would have "sacked" at least two players & the game would then have resulted into a farcial game.

  • Comment number 91.

    Neil, #6, I take it you were suffering from temporary blindness when (a) Nigel de Jong should have been sent off for his kung-fu kick (b) Mark van Bommel (again) should have been sent off if not for the tackle from behind in the first half, (he shouldn't have even been playing in the final given his raking tackle on a Uruguyan in the run up to Holland's first goal) for his repeated fouls in the second half (c) Robben should have been given a second yellow for kicking the ball into the net after being given offside, whilst sympathising with the first yellow he got for protesting after Puyol tried to foul him when he was bearing down on goal. Yes, Webb made many mistakes but players from both sides didn't make it easy (Spain were certainly no angels) and you do not help your cause by giving such a one sided account.

  • Comment number 92.

    The Dutch manager has a point, Webb didn't have control of the game. He should have sent more Dutch players off instead of just the one! Their behaviour was disgraceful for a World Cup final!

  • Comment number 93.

    Reading these comments, there are a lot of bitter Englishmen this morning. Granted, it wasn't the greatest of games and Spain were not at their best but let me tell you something, they play the game it ought to be played and are light years ahead of England.

    Also, I don't understand the criticism of Howard Webb. For me, he had an excellent game in difficult circumstances. I never had the Dutch down as a team of whingers, but I do now.

    Enhorabuena Espana!

  • Comment number 94.

    I see that the Dutch are blaming the referee.

    They're lucky the Netherlands still had 11 men on the pitch at half time. They should be thanking Howard Webb for being so lenient with them.

    Like others, I started the match wanting the Netherlands to win but finished it glad that they didn't. I've always admired the Dutch for playing attractive football. Last night's was unimaginative and ugly and got exactly what it deserved.

  • Comment number 95.

    Whatever the arguments for and against the Dutch, Spanish and Howard Webb, football was the biggest loser last night. If this and many other matches in the tournament are what 'the beautiful game' has become, they can keep it.

  • Comment number 96.

    Agreed, why were the BBC so pro-Spain? They dived around just as much, they waved several imaginary cards which weren't even mentioned once. Then to top it off they all sat in amazement that Forlan was deservedly named the winner of the golden ball.

    For me the final was a disappointment, it was all the worst parts of a football match rolled into one. Ill discipline, moaning to the referee, diving, imaginary cards, shocking tackles, and the Dutch surrounding the referee at the end of the game instead of losing with a bit of dignity.

    A poor advert for football; The third place playoff was far more akin to the 'Beautiful' game.

  • Comment number 97.

    Why is Webb getting off relatively easy? If Webb wasn't English the Beeb would be mocking the incompetent foreign ref do doubt. He was just as bad as his own national team were. If he stuck to the rules (not a strange request of an official surely?)then he would have sent off de Jong, even if he misses that then van Bommel, and that would have checked the players. But no - he tries to do what some european refs do and apply common sense and ultimately struggles to be consistent for the remainder of the game. What would have spoiled the game more? One red card or a record number of yellows? Who knows - 10 v 11 might have been better entertainment than watching quite an ugly game with a record number of yellows.

    I don't care if it is the final - rules are rules! In extra time he really excelled himself - goal kick that should have been a corner and no foul awarded to Elia when obstructed. All that in the lead up to the winning goal as well. It's a shame for Iniesta and Spain that the referee is even involved in these discussions but that's what they say about a good referee isn't it - you hardly notice him. The best ref was the one from Uzbekistan. Probably because he refs as he sees it and applies the rules. I shouldn't think he would be influenced by a lot of the dishonesty that goes on in so called 'better' leagues and sees no need to be cute with some 'common sense'.

    Also, I agree with some other post here. Spain won the world cup but they didn't entertain us as much as Hansen etc would have us believe. They scraped through scoring the least amount of goals any world cup winner has done in history - by 3 goals. Ok they won and so I'll never argue they weren't the best team but, like the Dutch, I found them a bit boring to watch. Yes I can appreciate the technically good midfields but they were both a bit toothless upfront, through the middle. Villa was good from inside left but once moved into the middle was a bit ineffective. Give me Germany and Uruguay with Klose and Forlan any day of the week - proper centre forwards who will worry teams and at least provide a bit more goal mouth action and therefore entertainment than those who just prod away...

  • Comment number 98.

    Oh and well done to Howard Webb for a good attempt at controlling a bunch of prima donnas; How anyone can criticize a referee after the way the players acted is beyond me.

  • Comment number 99.

    The final result is fair. The winner could have been either. There can only be one winner and one loser. The winner is Football and Spain. The loser has to be Howard Webb.

    He was horrendous. Well, I can say that about lots of other English refs too on some nights as well as well, as I am an avid EPL viewer and supporter. Had this been a group stage match, he would have long gone been sent home. That Blinded Webb of lies.

  • Comment number 100.

    It seems to me that anyone making negative remarks against the Spanish are simply not willing to let their guard down and admit that this is how football should be played.

    I keep hearing that Spain are not as free flowing as the Brazil of old but teams are well organised now and unfortunately every time Spain play they have 10 defenders to break through. This requires patience and discipline which they have plenty of. Can you imagine Gerrad, lampard & rooney clocking up pass after pass and retaining the ball until they can finally break down an opponent????

    Iniesta 7 Xavi, I mention them as a 2 because they are always in the same team whether it be for club or country and boy do they know how to run a game of football. They have magnets in their feet and always have time on the ball, for anyone who suggests Gerrard & lampard are world class . . . please think again. If the only accusation people can throw at Iniesta is that he was on the floor a lot then so be it but when u are that skillful you get fouled a lot.

    Spain have been great to watch for 3 years now and long may it continue, the worrying thing is that so many of theiir players have many years left in them.

    Will England learn from this . . keeping Capello on suggests otherwise. Will he try young players and reap the rewards like germany did with Mueller? I doubt it again as he loves the tried and tested players that ultimately flop when you take them out their clubs and remove the tactically astute foreigners that they play with on a weekly basis.

    Howard Webb - Top man, reffed a difficult game very well.


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