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Fleet Street gives its reaction to the World Cup final. It is fair to say many national reporters were not impressed with what they saw at Soccer City...

Last Updated: 12/07/10 9:29am

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It's reasonably fair to say that Fleet Street wasn't impressed with the World Cup final.

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Richard Williams in The Guardian doesn't place the blame on either side, but criticises both for a dire spectacle.

'No more all-European finals, thank you very much. The one four years ago that ended with Zinedine Zidane's head-butt and a penalty shoot-out was bad enough. But no one seriously expected a classic in Berlin that day. Last night's match was supposed to be a fascinating contest of stylistic nuances, a collision of rival philosophies featuring some of the finest attacking talents in the modern game. But as we had to wait until deep in extra time for Andrés Iniesta's goal, 84,000 people in the stadium and a reputed 700 million television spectators were left wondering when the football was going to start.

'Didn't someone tell the players that Nelson Mandela was in the house, never mind Shakira, Charlize Theron and 16 heads of state? Football is about 22 men in search of a result, nothing more and nothing less, but a little entertainment never goes amiss.'

Predictably enough, The Independent's James Lawton is a little more willing to point the finger.

'Throughout the tournament, Iniesta, the little man from La Mancha had supplied the creative force of the Spanish team who promised not only to win the tournament for the first time but lift the final alongside classic encounters involving men like Pele and Diego Maradona.

'There was never any chance of that last undertaking being delivered, not once it was clear the Netherlands understood that they couldn't truly compete with the range and the touch of the Spanish game - and settled instead for a spoiling operation which brought them nine yellow cards, one red and an indictment saying that, not only had they failed to go one better than their great predecessors led by Johan Cruyff and Ruud Krol in 1974 and 1978, they had found an entirely different and infinitely more forgettable level.'

Still, Henry Winter reckons justic was done, writing in The Daily Telegraph:

'Never mind the quality, feel the justice. A World Cup final so far removed from the Beautiful Game, so far out of keeping with such a largely upbeat tournament, was deservedly settled Spain's way by Andrés Iniesta four minutes from the end of extra-time. Spain have waited so long to lift the World Cup so what was an extra half-hour?

'The memory of the excruciating, pockmarked, foul-filled preceding 116 minutes was washed away with Iker Casillas' flowing tears of joy, with the flowing champagne.'

And Martin Lipton agrees in The Daily Mirror:

'This was Holland on a series of search and destroy missions, less Total Football than total thuggery, dragging the Spanish matadors into the fight they wanted them to join.'

Steven Howard goes a step further in The Sun, claiming the Dutch 'disgraced' football.

'Had Bert van Marwijk's cynical Dutchmen taken the trophy home, no one outside Holland would have been cheering. Stuck in the middle of it all was referee Howard Webb, the unfortunate Englishman drawn into the eye of a hurricane. He ended up booking 14 players - including five in one mad, 13-minute first-half spell - and sending off Everton's John Heitinga with 11 minutes left. But do not blame Webb.

'Sure, it takes two to tango. Yet it was the Dutch who both started and continued it.

The mean-spirited, bad-tempered Van Marwijk had said earlier in the tournament that no one would win anything these days playing Total Football. Apart from millions of friends. Instead, here he chose to send in his Clogs of War.

'What a betrayal of Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten.'

Finally, a word on Howard Webb from Graham Poll in The Daily Mail.

'It's all about getting the big decisions right. De Jong's kick to the chest of Alonso was an obvious red - Webb can't have seen it clearly. Van Bommel could also have seen red in the first half. The detection of fouls was excellent but the disciplinary measures taken were not.'

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