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Sports

Spanish enjoy football fiesta after victory over devastated Dutch

Spain is celebrating its first-ever World Cup victory after winning 1-0 in South Africa against the Netherlands. But as the fiesta got underway, Dutch fans found yet another World Cup final defeat hard to bear.

Spanish fans celebrating in the street

Spanish football fans celebrated throughout the night

"We will never forget it," read an editorial in the Spanish sports daily Marca. "There are people who, after this, will be able to die peacefully."

Across Spain, there was jubilation throughout the night as the country celebrated its first-ever World Cup victory, defeating third-time finalists - and third-time runners-up - the Netherlands.

Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo praised the team as one of the greatest-ever. "Thank you for all that you have done. The national side has embroidered its name in gold on a World Cup that will go down in history for having crowned one of the greatest teams of all time."

Daily El Pais praised match winner Andres Iniesta, who scored four minutes from the end of extra time, hailing the Barcelona player as "the eternal hero of Johannesburg."

"Spain is the world champion, the epic achievement that Spanish sport was lacking," read the newspaper's editorial.

Football fans in the Spanish capital Madrid filled city streets and danced in fountains after the final whistle, chanting "Viva Espana!"

Spain's Andres Iniesta, back, scores the goal

Iniesta was hailed as the 'eternal hero of Johannesburg'

More than 150,000 supporters watched the match in a fan park set up along a section of the city's Paseo de la Castellana.

In the Catalan capital of Barcelona, authorities set up a fan park for the final for the first time during the tournament. Around 75,000 people gathered to watch the national team, in a region where the notion of independence from Spain is a recurring political theme.

Spain's Queen Sofia was at the game in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium, although King Juan Carlos had remained in Spain for medical reasons.

"We are world champions," she said. "It's marvelous. We are absolutely delighted."

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he "suffered like never before" during the tense match. "We deserved it, we fought until the last minute," he said.

Celebration, commiseration

Tennis world number one Rafa Nadal said that victory, which follows Spain's win in the 2008 European Championships, was "unrepeatable" and should be celebrated for a whole year.

A Dutch soccer fan shows dejection

The result is the latest World Cup final trauma for the Dutch

There were different scenes in the Netherlands where fans were stunned into silence by Iniesta's strike 116 minutes into the soccer showdown.

As the final whistle blew, supporters in Amsterdam's Museum Square - where more than 100,000 had gathered - rested their heads in their hands in defeat.

Here too, the national press reflected the popular mood. "Third trauma for Orange," read the lead story of Dutch daily De Telegraaf daily, recalling the defeats to Germany in 1974 and Argentina in 1978 - the only two other World Cup finals that the Netherlands reached.

"The World Cup in South Africa will enter Dutch history as the third football trauma," it added.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP/dpa/Reuters)

Editor: Nigel Tandy

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