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Spain, Holland for historic World Cup final

Spain, Holland for historic World Cup final

A new world champion would be crowned in Sunday’s final at the Soccer City Stadium as Spain, yesterday, surged into their first appearance in a World Cup final, after edging out three-time champions, Germany 1-0, in a semifinal match in Durban.

Spain, who is the current European champions, plays Holland in a final that neutrals would savour. It promises to be a great feast of free-flowing attacking football from both finalists. None of them had won the World Cup before. This makes the 2010 World Cup unique.

A second-half goal from Barcelona defender Carles Pujol brought Spain a deserving reward for the consistent pressure in their showdown against Germany.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque brought in midfielder Pedro in place of Fernando Torres who had failed to show his old sharp-shooting form after returning to action only just in time for the World Cup after knee surgery.

Pedro’s inclusion meant a lone role up front for David Villa, the World Cup’s five-goal top scorer.

The switch very nearly brought an early goal. In the sixth minute Pedro threaded a pass into the German defense, Arne Friedrich let the ball run, not realizing how fast Villa was closing in behind him. Villa reached the ball just ahead of Manuel Neuer but his stab at a shot ricocheted away off the goalkeeper’s legs.

Spain were looking far more fluid and aggressive than in any of their earlier games. Xavi and Andres Iniesta were enjoying the freedom of midfield but Carles Pujol powered a diving header over the bar after Iniesta fired in a high-speed cross following a Xavi corner on the right.

Within minutes Kroos should have scored. He ran in, unmarked, on to a left-wing chipped cross from Lukas Podolski only to see Spanish captain Casillas drop alertly to the ground to beat the shot away.

That proved a crucial save. In the 73rd minute Spain attacked yet again, won yet another left-wing corner and this time saw Xavi’s kick headed home unstoppably by Pujol, charging late into the penalty box to rise above opponents and team-mates alike.

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