Netherlands plays ugly in title loss to Spain

Published Jul. 12, 2010 12:35 a.m. ET

Going into the World Cup, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said he didn't mind winning ugly.

In Sunday's final, the Dutch only managed the ugly part.

Eight Oranje players were shown yellow cards and John Heitinga got ejected when he picked up his second yellow in extra time. Even after the final whistle in their 1-0 loss to Spain, players from the Netherlands were yelling at the officials.

''Our fouls may be a sad thing for a final, but it is not our style,'' said Van Marwijk, who took his silver medal off as soon as he left the podium at the post-game news conference.

Four years after France's Zinedine Zidane was ejected in the final and the French lost to Italy on penalty kicks, the Dutch were a 10-man side when Andres Iniesta scored the game's only goal.

''I would have loved to win it with football that is not so beautiful,'' Van Marwijk said.

On a team flush with talent, only Arjen Robben stood out on Sunday and almost gave the Dutch a breakthrough goal twice on darting runs through the center. Each time, Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas was perfect in blocking his attempts.


''You felt that the team that would score first would win,'' Van Marwijk said. ''We had two great chances through Arjen.''

The Dutch twice went to the finals in the 1970s but lost both times - to West Germany and then Argentina - playing with flair in a style called ''total football.''

Two years ago, the coach moved the team toward a more efficient, less flashy style. Before Sunday, it was hard to argue with the results - the Netherlands came in riding a 10-game winning streak and a 25-match unbeaten streak.

But when it counted, the Netherlands didn't have enough creativity to counter Spain's offensive attack.

And after a foul-filled game, midfielder Mark van Bommel went straight over to referee Howard Webb to have his say. He was soon joined by Wesley Sneijder, Robben and a gesticulating Joris Mathijsen.

''We are angry that we lost because we came so close,'' Netherlands forward Dirk Kuyt said. ''I know you cannot blame others, but the ref was more favorable to Spain.''

''We had much more yellow cards than we deserved.''

Netherlands forward Eljero Elia agreed. ''If the referee made good decisions, then its a different game,'' he said.