With the scoreless match inching toward a penalty shootout, and the Netherlands down to 10 men, Andres Iniesta collected a pass from Cesc Fabregas to fire home from close range and break Dutch hearts four minutes from the final whistle.

The result caused agony in the Netherlands and ecstasy in Madrid where fans shed tears of joy and fireworks went off all over the city. More than 10O,000 people had gathered to watch on giant screens and many went hoarse with screams of joy.

In contrast, Dutch cities became deadly silent as their dream of finally winning the trophy evaporated. Some 180,000 fans trudged away quietly from Amsterdam’s museum square.

The game was far from the classic final to Africa’s first World Cup that many had hoped for from the two most impressive teams in the tournament.

Spain looked dominant for long passages but a ferociously physical Netherlands broke up their rhythm and their renowned precision passing in midfield, often reducing the game to a sterile stalemate.