Spain become first-time winners of the FIFA World Cup at Johannesburg's Soccer City Stadium on Sunday as the history books were rewritten.
Vicente del Bosque's side became the eighth country to etch their name on the trophy after Andrés Iniesta's extra-time clincher edged out the Netherlands, following Uruguay, Italy, West Germany/Germany, Brazil, England, Argentina and France. Only the second reigning European champions – after West Germany in 1974 – to lift the World Cup, they are also the first European nation to win the global football championship outside their own continent.
Just six European teams had previously reached a World Cup showpiece in the eight finals staged on other continents – and each time they did so in a losing cause. Czechoslovakia fell to Brazil in Chile in 1962, Italy did likewise in Mexico in 1970, before the Netherlands (in their second final defeat) were undone by hosts Argentina eight years later. The same South American opponents vanquished West German hopes in Mexico in 1986, then Brazil accounted for Italy in the United States in 1994 and overcame Germany in Japan in 2002.
Sunday's final was also the second successive World Cup decider involving two of Europe's finest, and the eighth in 19 editions of the tournament:
• 2006 (Germany): Italy 1-1 France (aet, Italy win 5-3 on penalties)
• 1982 (Spain): Italy 3-1 West Germany
• 1974 (West Germany): Netherlands 1-2 West Germany
• 1966 (England): England 4-2 West Germany (aet)
• 1954 (Switzerland): West Germany 3-2 Hungary
• 1938 (France): Italy 4-2 Hungary
• 1934 (Italy): Italy 2-1 Czechoslovakia (aet)
Spain were their continent's ninth finalist after Germany, Italy, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, England, Sweden and, of course, the Netherlands. The Oranje had lost successive finals in 1974 and 1978, yet had chances to make it third time lucky before Spain instead become world champions. The victors had scored just eight times in seven games, three goals fewer than the previous lowest tally of 11 set by England in 1966 and Brazil in 1994. Crucially, though, they conceded only two goals, equalling a record for a winning team held by France (1998) and Italy (2006).
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