Thursday, July 15, 2010


Spain's World Cup hero Andres Iniesta insists he was always confident his side could lift the trophy, despite enduring a turbulent season.

Midfielder Iniesta, who netted the extra-time winner for Spain in Sunday's World Cup final against Holland, was plagued by a thigh injury last term and only returned for Barcelona at the end of the campaign.

The 26-year-old then aggravated the problem during Spain's friendly win over Poland ahead of the South Africa tournament and was sidelined once again as Vicente del Bosque's side lost 1-0 to Switzerland in their opening group match. But Iniesta, who reappeared to play a key role in Spain's first World Cup triumph, claims he never doubted his side could land the world title.

Iniesta admits he has trouble putting into words how it felt to score the crucial goal for Spain that ensured their "priceless" win. Up until Sunday, Iniesta's most celebrated goal was an injury-time strike against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2009, sealing Barcelona's progression to the UEFA Champions League final, where they downed Manchester United. But the midfielder insists nothing compares to the feeling of helping secure World Cup success for his country.

Iniesta has also reiterated his desire to be reunited with Cesc Fabregas at Barcelona next season. The two combined to secure Spain's first-ever World Cup triumph on Sunday, with Fabregas' pass picking out Iniesta to score the extra-time winner against Holland.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Cesc Fabregas hailed a historic moment for Spain after he helped La Roja to their first World Cup triumph.

The Arsenal midfielder came off the bench to create the extra-time winner for Andres Iniesta as Spain beat Holland 1-0 in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

Fabregas found himself playing a bit-part role throughout the tournament, but he said the victory made up for all the frustration. Fabregas also had some sympathy for Arsenal team-mate and Dutch forward Robin van Persie after the game.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Andres Iniesta's strike with four minutes left of extra-time fired Spain to World Cup glory for the first time in their history as they vanquished Holland in a fractious final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

In a game when a record number of yellow cards were given and John Heitinga was sent off in extra-time, both sides missed great chances from Arjen Robben and Cesc Fabregas, but Andres Iniesta netted in the 116th minute to give European champions Spain their first World Cup title.

Spain completely dominated possession but had few clear-cut chances to show for it, with a free header from Sergio Ramos and a David Villa strike that was deflected over the best opportunities in normal time. Demonstrated some excellent touches in midfield, with plenty of classy interchanges and never showed frustration when they couldn't break through. 

After an unimpressive first period, in which four Dutch players were yellow carded, Bert van Marwijk's side came into the game more after the interval, trying to get the ball to Arjen Robben as much as possible. It almost worked to devastating effect on two occasions when Carles Puyol's pace was exposed, but Robben was twice thwarted by Iker Casillas. Were outclassed in extra-time and after losing their cool a third World Cup final defeat will be the bitterest pill to swallow.

The introduction of Fabregas injected some much-needed freshness into Vicente del Bosque's side and the winning goal was just reward for the team that unquestionably played the better football.

Three minutes into the first period of extra-time, Spain had appeals for a penalty rightly turned down by Webb, who judged that Xavi kicked into Heitinga when in the area. 

In the 19th minute of extra-time, Holland were reduced to 10 men after Heitinga received a second booking for pulling on Iniesta's shoulder. And with four minutes remaining, Spain scored the goal that won them the 2010 World Cup.

Fabregas slipped a pass to his right, and waiting was Iniesta. The Barcelona schemer took one touch before planting the ball past Stekelenburg with aplomb, sparking delirium from the Spanish players as they completed their mission for world domination.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Spain needed a 73rd minute goal from defender Carles Puyol to edge past Germany 1-0 on Wednesday and set up a World Cup final against Netherlands. Puyol climbed above the defence to head the winner from a Xavi corner and send Spain to their first World Cup final.

The Spaniards dominated most of the match but struggled to finish off a German side that was lacking their usual pace. European champions Spain dominated possession early on and needed only five minutes to carve out their first chance against a nervous German defence.

Spain forward Pedro, who started ahead of the misfiring Fernando Torres, played the ball for David Villa, who caught Arne Friedrich napping but could not beat keeper Manuel Neuer. With the Germans, who lost the Euro 2008 final to the Spaniards by the same score, boxed into their own half, Spain kept up the pressure, with Puyol heading an Andres Iniesta cross from the right narrowly over the bar after 15 minutes.

The Spaniards came agonisingly close in the 58th minute with a Pedro shot that forced a spectacular save from Neuer before Iniesta cut the ball across the face of goal a metre ahead of the sliding Villa. Germany remained on the backfoot and 17 minutes from time were punished when Puyol headed home the winner.

Spain will face Netherlands at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday. The Dutch have been in the final twice before but have never won it so a new world champion is guaranteed.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Spain have received an injury boost ahead of their World Cup semi-final against Germany after Cesc Fabregas trained with his team-mates on Tuesday night.

Vicente del Bosque was handed a headache over the Arsenal captain, who is wanted by Barcelona, when he sustained a knock to his right leg in a previous training session.

But a scan revealed that Fabregas had not suffered a bone injury and he could be available to face Germany on Wednesday, with speculation suggesting that after being a substitute he is set to start in place of Fernando Torres.

Despite wearing a support strip on the back of his leg, the midfielder was able to take part in a complete training session in Durban on Tuesday to suggest he will be ready to take on Joachim Low's in-form side.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


An 83rd minute goal from David Villa defeated a dogged Paraguay as Spain unconvincingly booked a World Cup semi-final tie with Germany.

Villa scored with seven minutes remaining at Ellis Park to save his country's blushes following an unusually lacklustre performance and send them to the last four for the first time in their history.

The winning goal came after Oscar Cardozo and Xabi Alonso both missed penalties, the latter following a re-take.

Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque name an unchanged starting XI, despite pressure to remove the mis-firing Fernando Torres. Chile, meanwhile, made six changes to the team which beat Japan on penalties. Among those alterations, forward trio Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez all dropped to the bench.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Wesley Sneijder insists that he has not fallen out with striker Robin van Persie ahead of Holland's World Cup quarter-final against five-times champions Brazil in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The Arsenal striker was unhappy at being substituted in Holland's 2-1 second round victory against Slovakia in Durban and had been accused of suggesting to Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk that Sneijder should have been the man to be replaced with 10 minutes remaining in the match.

Van Persie has scored just one goal against Cameroon at the finals and has struggled to find his best form following an injury-hit season with Arsenal.

Inter Milan ace Sneijder has played down reports of a falling-out with the 26-year-old after they were both reportedly summoned for talks with Van Marwijk following Monday's match. Sneijder insists that there is a real sense of unity in the Dutch squad, unlike in previous tournaments.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels England were "killed by their own impatience" as they crashed out of the World Cup to Germany in Bloemfontein.

Fabio Capello's future as boss of the national team is under the spotlight following England's woeful showing in South Africa, which ended with a 4-1 footballing lesson from a young German side on Sunday.

However, Wenger believes it could have been different had the England players used their experience and not allowed themselves to be caught on the break as they pressed for an equaliser, which they had been denied when the officials failed to spot that Frank Lampard's lob had crossed the line.

Wenger also believes England's failure to cope with the weight of expectation was a big part of the problem.


Sunday, June 27, 2010


Manchester United have ruled out a bid to sign Joe Cole on a free transfer. Cole is out of contract this summer and, after Chelsea confirmed he will not be offered a new deal, he has been linked with several top clubs in the Premier League.

It had been reported that Arsenal had agreed a deal, but Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp this week said he believed the player would move to Old Trafford.

However, various reports now suggest United have said they have no intention of offering Cole a deal. The BBC claims that "although Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a long-time admirer of Cole, a senior club source at Old Trafford said he would not be making a summer move to sign him".

Friday, June 25, 2010


Holland maintained their 100 per cent record at the World Cup as they ensured Cameroon left the tournament pointless after running out 2-1 winners in their final Group E game.

Robin van Persie's crisp 36th minute strike gave the Green Point Stadium crowd something to get excited about in an otherwise drab opening period to what was a virtual dead-rubber.

But a much-improved second half saw the Indomitable Lions rewarded for their endeavour as Samuel Eto'o scored his second goal of the tournament via the penalty spot after Rafael van der Vaart was penalised for handballing Geremi's free-kick.

But Paul Le Guen's side were denied a point as Dutch substitute Arjen Robben quickly announced himself to the South Africa finals as his long-range blast cannoned off the post before allowing fellow replacement Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to tuck home the winner.

The Dutch top Group E with nine points and will meet Slovakia in Durban on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals while Cameroon head home empty-handed.