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Iniesta's late strike lifts Spain to first World Cup title

Spain's Andres Iniesta celebrates after scoring a goal

Spain's Andres Iniesta celebrates after scoring a goal during the World Cup final soccer match between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Johannesburg. (July 11, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

The beautiful game? Hardly.

To Spain, however, it was downright breathtaking.

Midfielder Andres Iniesta netted a goal just minutes before the World Cup final would have had to be decided by penalty kicks to give Spain a 1-0 win over the Netherlands. His 116th-minute strike -- a strong right-footed boot across his body into the left corner of the net -- gave Spain its first World Cup title.

PHOTOS: Spain 1, Netherlands 0

After decades of failure, Spain broke through two years ago with its monumental win at Euro 2008. Now, it owns the grandest title of them all.

The game itself lacked the class and creativity we're used to seeing from typical Spanish and Dutch masterpieces, but the tension was palpable as both teams looked to secure their first title. Millions of fans in Spain rejoiced, while the Netherlands now has a third runner-up performance to look back on and wonder what went wrong.

An amazing 14 yellow cards -- and one red -- were handed out by British referee Howard Webb to set a World Cup final record. Many were warranted, but some were given for ticky-tack fouls. Not one card was given for a theatrical dive, of which there were many. For the Dutch, who received nine of the cards, only Dirk Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder and goalie Maarten Stekelenburg didn't get booked.

Before Andres Iniesta connected on the late blast -- on an assist from late sub Cesc Fabregas, both teams wasted multiple chances to break the scoreless tie. Arjen Robben's two chances at the top of the box will haunt him for ages, while Spain's David Villa, Sergio Ramos and Fabregas all had a chance to be heroes, but couldn't get it done.

Robben's first chance, in the 62nd minute, was the best for either team after Sneijder played him a beautiful ball up the center of the field for a breakaway. He took a few touches to reach the 18 and blasted the ball on net, but Iker Casillas made the kick save to preserve the tie.

Casillas was honored with the Golden Gloves award for the tournament's top keeper after he and his stalwart defense recorded a fourth straight 1-0 win to take home the title. Spain also became the first team to win the tournament after losing its first game.

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