The last World Cup game for me before heading home was ‘La Furia Roja’ v the Portuguese at Greenpoint Stadium. For this game I got a taxi into the Civic Centre before getting the free shuttle bus to the ground. Once there I headed back up the fan walk to buy a Spanish scarf and meet up with the lads (Donny & his younger brother) I was going to the game with. The Spanish supporters were in Cape Town in big numbers and were confident of a victory over their Iberian neighbours.
One of Donny’s mates, a local lad called Neil, had a bottle of the finest South African sherry which warmed us up on the walk down to the stadium. The organisation outside the ground had improved since the last couple of games I was at. We made our way into the stadium in plenty of time for the kick-off which was just as well as we had a long walk around the ground to our seats in the corner. Once there we had a superb view of the pitch.
I was expecting a classic World Cup encounter and with Spain playing really attractive passing football and having Liverpool connections throughout the time I was firmly on their side. Portugal also had the ‘show-pony’ Ronaldo playing for them which was another good reason to support the Spanish.
Spain’s midfield containing Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso played some lovely passing football which was like watching a game of chess from our seats high up in the stand. Iniesta appeared to have the ball stuck to his foot and for me he stood out as the class act on show; it’s no surprise that Pep Guardiola told Xavi that Iniesta would retire both of them when he first saw him in action. ‘El Anti-Galáctico’ stands in sharp contrast to all the glitz that surrounds Ronaldo. Pique looks a real prospect; I’m not sure the Mancs realised just how much potential this lad has.
Fernando Torres was disappointingly off the pace again but given his April operation and his lack of football in the final stage of the season it’s not really a surprise he hasn’t delivered yet on the biggest stage of them all. He was replaced with the impressive Fernando Llorente on the hour mark and he immediately made an impact. Villa scored Spain’s winner around the 63rd minute after a Xavi backheel played him in. I expected a Portugese onslaught after that but it never came. Ronaldo was anonymous bar the odd threatrical dive which was greeted with derision around the stadium. I was hoping for an equaliser to take the game into extra time and a chance to see some proper World Cup theatre but Portugal had nothing to offer. The Spanish celebrations began.
Back home now I feel privileged to have seen three of the last four teams in action at Greenpoint. Just a pity that I missed the German demolition of Argentina by one day as tickets were easy to come by in work in the couple of days before the game.