Holland boss Bert van Marwijk tried to blame the Netherlands' defeat on English referee Howard Webb last night after his side's negative approach failed to stop Spain in the World Cup final.
The Dutch coach made the remarkable accusation that the referee's handling of a tempestuous match was at fault on a night when the Premier League official sent off John Heitinga and showed 12 other yellow cards, and was later booed by the crowd as he collected his medal.
Van Marwijk had himself been the subject of criticism before, and during, the tournament for his side's style of play, and that will only intensify after last night. He acknowledged his team's robust approach, but also attacked the performance of the first Englishman to referee a final since Jack Taylor in 1974.
"I don't think the referee controlled the match well," Van Marwijk said. "But let me be clear about this: the best team won the match. I'm trying to analyse the match as best as possible. But I read a few things about how angry Spain were at the refereeing in the first match against Switzerland. If you view the performance [of the referee] today, you'd almost think now that that first match had an influence on this game now.
"I thought that, even with 10 players, we'd get to the penalty shoot-out. When I look back at the match, the first half it was as if we were under a great deal of tension. We tried to play our own game, but it wasn't good enough in the first half. We were overcome by everything. We conceded some early opportunities, but then recovered. It was better in the second half when we didn't hold back any more, and it was a genuine match then. We had two big opportunities for Arjen [Robben], but they had some too.
"It's just sad, really, to lose a final in this way. First we get this red card for Heitinga. I'm not someone to look back at the referee. The best team wins the match. It's very bitter in defeat, and very sad, but the best team won."
Van Marwijk defended his side's physicality that kept Webb busy throughout the 120 minutes. "There were fouls from both sides, and quite a few from the Spanish," he said. "It's not our style. Let me put it this way, it's not our style to commit horrible fouls. It's not our kind of football. It was a World Cup final and people were tense. Look at the rest of the tournament. I think both sides, also the Spaniards, committed terrible fouls.
"It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were facing a very good opponent. Spain are the best footballing country in the past few years, so we needed to have a top day to beat them. We did a good job tactically on them. We got into good positions at times. Both sides committed fouls. That may be regrettable for a final. It's not our style. But you play a match to win. It's a World Cup final, and there's a lot of emotion out there. You saw that with both teams. I'd loved to have won that match, even with not so beautiful football."
The Englishman's final: Webb under the spotlight
*Howard Webb gave 14 yellow cards in the game, including a second yellow card that saw Heitinga sent off.
*First yellow came after just four minutes as Van Persie was booked for a foul.
*Puyol (16 min) fells Robben with both feet off the ground.
*Van Bommel's crude lunge at Iniesta (21) is followed by Sergio Ramos's foul on Kuyt right under the noses of the Dutch bench.
*De Jong (26) could have seen red after dangerously planting a full sets of studs into Alonso's chest.
*Cries for a penalty from the Spanish fans are dismissed as Van Bommel appears to push Alonso in the area (47).
*Sixth booking, for Van Bronckhorst, perhaps harshly, (54) followed by one for Heitinga.
*Second yellow for Heitinga (110).
*Mathijsen receives yellow for dissent and Iniesta for taking his shirt off (115).
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