Naturally, given his uncertainty in front of goal, he wasn’t a certainty to score. Or, failing that, at least a little hope.
So many people around the world look to the World Cup for inspiration. The Dutch seemed more content, or merely only able, to disrupt.
Unfortunately, it isn’t his right. This deserved his immediate expulsion via the nearest airfield, never mind the nearest door to the locker room. We need them to provide memories. Again, the wrong one.
For a country that had once been famous for the beauty of its football, even if it was rarely a football that won the ultimate game, this was shame gone wild.
They tried to pass the ball.
Then the Spanish finally lost their temper. Spain won 1-0.
For 115 minutes, the World Cup Final had been the Artist fighting the Corporation. It was, again, his left foot. He looks like an unassuming vacation waiter.
The Dutch continued to argue with the referee, whining in asinine desperation, while the Spanish fell down in relief and joy at the burden that was finally lifted from their very selves.
Shame was grasping for glory, preparing to clutch it in its filthy hands, when up stepped a true hero.
Then the yellow cards began to come out.
Iniesta was clear on goal. Or, indeed, in any more disgraceful fouling.
Not once during this game could one believe that the good could triumph over the bad, the ugly, the venal, the cynical and the supposedly realistic. After a mazy run by Jesus Navas and a mistake by Heitinga, the ball fell to Villa’s left foot.
The referee at least had the tiny grace not to punish Iniesta. Robben was put through with just Casillas to beat. So did the Spanish as they tried to blow the Dutch house down.. With seven minutes left, Robben was put through, lost control and was so convinced that he had been fouled that he forgot that he was supposed to score.
All too often, though, Spain tried to walk the ball intricately through the center of the Dutch defense and all too often, there were too many bodies waiting for just such a move.
In the first half of extra time, the wondrous Iniesta was through on goal. They tried to beat their man.
2010 CBS Interactive Inc. His shot was blocked.
Then Spain’s Carles Puyol, again for a challenge that looked worse than the fine ESPN HD replay showed that it really was.
As the game went into extra time, it seemed that Spain’s inability to score, which had plagued them throughout this World Cup, would sentence them to defeat.
The referee, Englishman Howard Webb, cowered with the yellow card rather than raging with the red.
In the 62nd minute, The Dutch had their great chance.
First, Robin Van Persie, for little more than purses at dawn. It was David Carradine.
With 14 minutes left, Sergio Ramos had a free header from a corner.
It took 108 minutes for Webb to finally pull out his red card.
Before the game, Kuyt had promised that Holland would take the game to the Spanish. There was little evidence of that in the first 25 minutes. He had no grace, however, when, yet again, he allowed Van Bommel to stay on the pitch for yet another heinous act of intimidation.
It had been beauty taking on the repulsive.
Midway through the first half, Holland’s Nigel De Jong offered a moment of complete and utter violence that should have led to his immediate expulsion.
It was as if at least one Dutchman, Stekelenburg, knew this was one cruel joke. The other, only to win.
The right foot scored the right goal.
These things don’t come around very often. This wasn’t anodyne. After all, they had relied on cruelty for the whole game.
As the second half began, Spain seemed to insist that right would defeat might.
Put through on the right, he had enjoyed better chances in the game. The Arsenal midfielder should have scored. All Rights Reserved.
Andres Iniesta doesn’t look like a hero. It had been talent fighting subterfuge.
While Holland seemed to be ready to settle for the cruelty of penalties. After yet another crude, pathetic, cowardly assault by Van Bommel, Iniesta offered retaliation.
Xavi and Iniesta continued to weave patterns, while the likes of Heitinga continued to offer crude, late assaults.
They tried to saunter through the scything.
Then Jesus Navas shot, with his right, but found it deflected.
The game began with the Dutch expressing their intentions to offer brutality as their route to vitality.
After him, it was Spain’s Sergio Ramos, whose scything of Kuyt, was executed using nothing more frightening than a trowel.
But just as the game was sinking into the ignominy of penalties, just as the game of football was sinking into the hands of more crude cynics, Iniesta had the good fortune to see a chance fall to his right foot.
A little man, with a large right foot, gave us that little hope. As Navas’ shot bounced to safety, the Dutch keeper laughed.
Still Spain tried to attack. Instead he shot lamely at Stekelenburg.
Chris Matyszczyk is an award-winning creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing, and an avid sports fan. They tried, in short, to play football.
The vuvuzelas blew extra hard. But Heitinga’s cynical pull back meant he couldn’t take part in any penalty shootout. He could have passed the ball square.
With just 22 minutes left, Villa had Spain’s best chance. A little hope that sheer talent and a distaste for nastiness can prevail.
One team came to play.
The Dutch were playing like a team of drunken miners whose pit has been closed for good.
Spain’s Andres Iniesta, right, scores a goal past Netherlands’ Rafael van der Vaart, left, during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday, July 11, 2010.
The world was running out of hope.
In extra time, Iniesta put through Fabregas.
Worse, Sneijder, normally a creative force, seemed so moved by his team’s embrace of the cudgel that he himself managed to raise a foot to groin-level in a very clumsy assault on Busquets.
If they took the game to the Spanish, it was with AK-47s, truncheons, spikes and hammers.
With this he gave the Dutch permission to continue casting an appalling odor over the game.
With one glorious smite of that foot, he gave Spain its first ever World Cup.
Robben’s reaction, a greater sprint than he had offered all game, this time towards the referee, was full of f-words and received merely the y-card.
In the context of this game, Puyol’s loose arm around Robben constituted nothing more than a friendly embrace.
Yet again, the chance fell to his weaker left foot and he offered uncharacteristic panic rather than some kind of finality.
But then Mark Van Bommel, he who would choose to enforce a strict line at a Charity Sale by kicking every single person in it, offered a rather complete assault to Iniesta’s legs.
After something of a twisted assault by van Bronckhorst, leading to a free kick, Sergio Ramos offered a beautifully twisted header that Stekelenburg saved very well.
Right had defeated might.
Spain tried to tiptoe through the tulips.
This was clear, malignant and reckless. But this was his right foot.
While Sneijder barely saw the ball, Van Bommel continued to express his need to succeed Jason Statham in some loud and violent Hollywood movie.
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Then came Iniesta.
To Andres Iniesta, we should all be very grateful.
Nigel De Jong offered a kung-fu kick straight to the chest of Xabi Alonso. How could he not score? Carles Puyol would surely have scored. He is also the author of the popular CNET blog Technically Incorrect.
Complete Coverage: 2010 World Cup
Perhaps the Jo’bulani, specially created for this one game, had bounced awkwardly off his headband.
The referee again failed in his responsibility, with just seven minutes left, to red card Robben who, already on a yellow, blatantly kicked the ball away long after the whistle had blown.
Though Casillas went the wrong way, Robben did not have the clinical ability to finish that matched his teammates’ clinical ability to assault.
He also saved football. It allowed to the Dutch to feel they had just a little more rope with which Spanish throats could be choked