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Friday, June 2, 2023

Spain crowned as kings of world soccer


If the celebration at the Club Campestre de España in San Antonio de Belén in Heredia in any way reflected the party in Spain on Sunday night, it’s a safe bet that not much will be accomplished there on Monday.
On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of red- and yellow-clad Spanish fans sang, drank, ate paella and danced into the night as they celebrated Spain’s first-ever FIFA World Cup championship, a 1-0 extra time victory over the Netherlands. It was a day the country of Spain and many Spanish-born Costa Rican residents will cherish forever.
“I don’t think this was the best game we played all tournament,” said Ricardo Casero, who moved to Costa Rica from northern Spain several years ago. “But who cares. No one will remember that. They will only remember that this was the day Spain won their first ever World Cup. Viva España! Viva España!
After a scoreless, thrilling, first 115 minutes of play, Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta broke the deadlock in extra time with a right footed blast that whizzed under the outstretched arm Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg into the far corner. Iniesta’s goal, the biggest in the history of Spanish soccer, sent the Spanish fans at the Club Campestre into mass hysteria, expressing their jubilation through screams, song, tears or dance.
As is typical in soccer, had one kick or one deflection occurred a different way, it could have been the Dutch celebrating their first-ever World Cup championship. The opportunity that most Dutch fans and players will most lament occurred in the 62nd minute, when Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder played a pass through the defense to teammate Arjen Robben, who was barreling towards the Spanish goal. Robben, one of the world’s best players, found himself alone with Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, who met Robben nearly at the top of his 18-yard box. Robben shot to his left and, though Casillas fell the opposite way, he was able to deflect the ball with his outstretched right foot. The deflection thwarted Holland’s best scoring chance of the game.
“Casillas was an absolute hero for us in this World Cup,” said Jordi Triquell, a Spainard who has lived in Costa Rica for eight years. “He saved us time and time again. Thank God for ‘Saint Iker’ (Casillas).”
In the tournament, the Spanish conceded only two goals in seven games. After losing their opening match to Switzerland, the Spanish won six games, including four consecutive 1-0 victories.
“When we scored, I had no idea who scored it,” Triquell. “I didn’t know how to react. I was screaming and jumping and hugging everyone around me. Never have Spanish fans been able to enjoy a moment as marvellous as today. What a day! Viva España!”

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