Here’s the winning goal (it won’t embed):
I wish the clip started ten seconds earlier. I’d already expressed shock at the introduction of Navas for Pedro but it was true that Spain were really lacking width due to the natural tendencies of all the midfielders to play fairly central and Ramos sudden resistance to going forward. The move proved wise though as Navas collected the ball tight to the line and found a way through three defenders before bundling the ball to Iniesta once he got into the Dutch half.
Iniesta’s part in the goal is three fold; each showing how great he is. The first is the backheel to Cesc Fabregas when the ball ricochets to him after Navas’ run. He hits it blind, probably relying on a shout from Fabregas, and puts it right in his path.
Next are the runs he makes. He surges once Fab gets the ball back to Navas then realizes the ball’s going out wide to Torres so he holds up a bit. Then he surges again when Torres plays the initial ball in towards the top of the box. As soon as he sees that it’s going to get cut out, he checks his run to get onside again and pulls just wide enough for Fabregas to find him yet still give him a good path to goal.
Lastly, while I’m not sure he meant to pop his first touch up in the air quite so much, the finish was just what it needed to be: powerful but controlled to the far post.
His post-goal salute to his friend, Dani Jarque (the Espanyol captain who died of a heart attack just after a training session just under a year ago; Iniesta and Jarque were teammates on several Spanish youth teams) on the t-shirt under his jersey was icing on the cake. Class player. Class person. Made me very glad I’d gone with the Barca jersey with his name and number on it for my son last year.