July 10th 2010
At last! England will have a representative in the World Cup final... yada yada yada.
With FIFA confirming referee Howard Webb had been selected to take charge of Sunday's clash between Netherlands and Spain we can expect the usual headlines as England celebrate the only way we know how.
The 38-year-old Webb will be aided by his assistants Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey during Sunday's final in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.
Webb, who has taken charge of three matches in the World Cup so far, will become the first Englishman to referee the final since Jack Taylor in 1974 - when the Netherlands were beaten 2-1 by West Germany - a game in which Taylor sensationally gave the Dutch a penalty in the first minute. Can we now claim three stars on the shirt?
The South Yorkshire policeman will make a little piece of football history in that he will become the first person to have refereed the Champions League / European Cup final and the World Cup final in the same year.
Premier League referees chief Mike Riley praised Webb and his assistants. Riley, general manager of Professional Match Game Officials said: "It's not only recognition for their excellent tournament in South Africa so far but also the progress they have made internationally over the last four years. As a team they've worked incredibly hard to get to this stage, starting back at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2007, then Euro 2008 and last year the 2009 Confederations Cup. It's just rewards for all their efforts."
It's just a shame the same can't be said of the English football team who should similarly have put in such effort over the past three years. We wish Mr Webb and his team well and, if there is a ball that bouncs near or over the goal-line, hope that the referee and his assistants make the correct call. England expects nothing less.
Germany 3 Uruguay 2
Venue: Blagg Acres
Sustenance: Bratwurst and a bottle of Becks
Cracking match! If only the rest of the tournament had been this good. The Germans went ahead after 19 minutes when Muller - suspended for the semi-final - was first to react to a smartly hit shot that Muslera wasn't able to hold, his punch-out catching his own defenders flat-footed as Muller slotted in. Cavani though, equalised for Uruguay, latching onto a superb through ball to poke past Butt in the German goal.
It was an open attacking game throughout and, in pouring rain and a slippery surface, it was no surprise when Forlan put Uruguay ahead, brilliantly striking on the volley. But the South Americans couldn't hold on and Jansen equalised five minutes later. It was end to end stuff now but Khedira settled it eight minutes from time when he headed in following a corner that caused chaos in the area. Uruguay put Germany under intense pressure as they sought to take the game into extra-time and a had a glorious chance when the South Americans won a free kick on the edge of the area in injury time. Forlan stepped up and saw a glorious chance dip and beat Butt but just catch the bar to bounce away as the whistle blew.
The result means Germany win the bronze medal and both Muller and Forlan head the Golden Boot table although Villa and Sneijder have the chance to pull ahead of them tomorrow night. Personally, I feel sorry for Forlan who has been the best forward in the tournament and deserves the boot.
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