Xabi Alonso fears he may have broken a rib after describing Nigel de Jong's challenge in the World Cup final as 'one of the worst tackles' he has suffered.

Holland midfielder De Jong was fortunate not to be sent off in Sunday's Soccer City showdown after a kung-fu style kick into Alonso's chest in the first half.

The Spain ace was able to continue playing before being replaced by Cesc Fabregastowards the end of normal time, but he was unhappy with De Jong's tackle.

Reigning European champions Spain have now become the third side, after West Germany and France, to hold both tournaments at the same time.

No country has ever managed three on the trot, which will be Spain's task in two years' time at Euro 2012, and they have already been installed as favourites to complete a memorable hat-trick.

Alonso accepts there is plenty of work ahead of his team-mates before then, but the raw talent is certainly there.



Andres Iniesta's strike with four minutes left of extra-time fired Spain to World Cup glory for the first time in their history as they vanquished Holland in a fractious final at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

In a game when a record number of yellow cards were given and John Heitinga was sent off in extra-time, both sides missed great chances from Arjen Robben and Cesc Fabregas, but Andres Iniesta netted in the 116th minute to give European champions Spain their first World Cup title.

Spain completely dominated possession but had few clear-cut chances to show for it, with a free header from Sergio Ramos and a David Villa strike that was deflected over the best opportunities in normal time. Demonstrated some excellent touches in midfield, with plenty of classy interchanges and never showed frustration when they couldn't break through. 

After an unimpressive first period, in which four Dutch players were yellow carded, Bert van Marwijk's side came into the game more after the interval, trying to get the ball to Arjen Robben as much as possible. It almost worked to devastating effect on two occasions when Carles Puyol's pace was exposed, but Robben was twice thwarted by Iker Casillas. Were outclassed in extra-time and after losing their cool a third World Cup final defeat will be the bitterest pill to swallow.

The introduction of Fabregas injected some much-needed freshness into Vicente del Bosque's side and the winning goal was just reward for the team that unquestionably played the better football.

Three minutes into the first period of extra-time, Spain had appeals for a penalty rightly turned down by Webb, who judged that Xavi kicked into Heitinga when in the area. 

In the 19th minute of extra-time, Holland were reduced to 10 men after Heitinga received a second booking for pulling on Iniesta's shoulder. And with four minutes remaining, Spain scored the goal that won them the 2010 World Cup.

Fabregas slipped a pass to his right, and waiting was Iniesta. The Barcelona schemer took one touch before planting the ball past Stekelenburg with aplomb, sparking delirium from the Spanish players as they completed their mission for world domination.


Xabi Alonso admits winning the World Cup with Spain would surpass his Champions League success with Liverpool.

Real Madrid midfielder Alonso was part of the Liverpool side that staged the remarkable comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul.

Alonso scored against Milan as Liverpool came from three goals down to draw 3-3 before winning the game in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

"But winning the World Cup, that is an achievement that so few players can make. Some of the best players the game has known never got a chance like this, when you can spell your name in history."

Spain take on Holland on Sunday in their first-ever World Cup final and Alonso admits winning the game's biggest prize would be the ultimate honour.



Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson believes Steven Gerrard will be staying at Anfield after revealing that he has had "positive" talks with the club captain.

Having already lost Yossi Benayoun to Chelsea, Hodgson is focused on keeping Gerrard and Fernando Torres at the club, amid speculation that the pair could leave.

But the future appears bright for Liverpool fans, as Hodgson met with Gerrard and Jamie Carragher following his appointment last Thursday, with the talks going to plan according to the new Reds boss.

With Gerrard happy to stay, Hodgson must turn his attention to Torres when he returns from World Cup action, though the Liverpool boss is confident that he can convince the Spain striker to commit his future to the club.


Spain needed a 73rd minute goal from defender Carles Puyol to edge past Germany 1-0 on Wednesday and set up a World Cup final against Netherlands. Puyol climbed above the defence to head the winner from a Xavi corner and send Spain to their first World Cup final.

The Spaniards dominated most of the match but struggled to finish off a German side that was lacking their usual pace. European champions Spain dominated possession early on and needed only five minutes to carve out their first chance against a nervous German defence.

Spain forward Pedro, who started ahead of the misfiring Fernando Torres, played the ball for David Villa, who caught Arne Friedrich napping but could not beat keeper Manuel Neuer. With the Germans, who lost the Euro 2008 final to the Spaniards by the same score, boxed into their own half, Spain kept up the pressure, with Puyol heading an Andres Iniesta cross from the right narrowly over the bar after 15 minutes.

The Spaniards came agonisingly close in the 58th minute with a Pedro shot that forced a spectacular save from Neuer before Iniesta cut the ball across the face of goal a metre ahead of the sliding Villa. Germany remained on the backfoot and 17 minutes from time were punished when Puyol headed home the winner.

Spain will face Netherlands at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Sunday. The Dutch have been in the final twice before but have never won it so a new world champion is guaranteed.



Spain striker Fernando Torres believes the best is yet to come from his team as they prepare to take on Germany. The European champions face the Germans in Durban on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the World Cup, a repeat of their final in Euro 2008.

Spain lost their first game in the competition to Switzerland but have since bounced back and beat Paraguay 1-0 in the quarter-finals on Saturday. Liverpool striker Torres, 26, admits he is proud to lead the line in Spain's first ever World Cup semi-final, and is expecting a tough game.

Torres has not been on best form this summer as the Liverpool forward is struggling for fitness after only recently recovering from an injury. His strike partner David Villa, meanwhile, has been firing in the goals and sits top of the scoring chart with five strikes to his name so far.

Torres is unconcerned by his recent dip but insists it is the results that count, not individual performances.


England's World Cup captain Steven Gerrard has called for goal-line technology to be introduced to football.

The Three Lions were victims of a questionable decision in their last-16 encounter against Germany in South Africa when a potential equaliser from Frank Lampard was disallowed despite clearly crossing the line.

Gerrard really hope that the failure of the linesman to see Frank Lampard's goal will opens the debate up again about goal-line technology. Though, he can't understand why there is so much opposition to the goal-line technology because it is about decisions that can decide things as big as the World Cup. He fear that the decision will be made by people who don't play the game and who aren't affected by these mistakes.

UEFA experimented with extra officials behind the goals during the Europa League and, after experiencing that system with Liverpool,Gerrard believes a similar strategy should have been employed at the World Cup. He added that if there had been a linesman behind the German goal then maybe England would still be in the World Cup.

The Reds skipper also feels that players should have a larger influence in changes made to the rules.These decisions are made they are always made by officials, but they don't play the game.



An 83rd minute goal from David Villa defeated a dogged Paraguay as Spain unconvincingly booked a World Cup semi-final tie with Germany.

Villa scored with seven minutes remaining at Ellis Park to save his country's blushes following an unusually lacklustre performance and send them to the last four for the first time in their history.

The winning goal came after Oscar Cardozo and Xabi Alonso both missed penalties, the latter following a re-take.

Spain head coach Vicente del Bosque name an unchanged starting XI, despite pressure to remove the mis-firing Fernando Torres. Chile, meanwhile, made six changes to the team which beat Japan on penalties. Among those alterations, forward trio Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios and Edgar Benitez all dropped to the bench.



David Villa's 63rd-minute strike gave Spain a 1-0 win over Portugal and sent the European champions into the World Cup quarter-finals.

Portugal were the only team left in the competition yet to concede a goal and were frustrating Spain in the much-anticipated second-round showdown between the Iberian neighbours.

But two substitutions just before the hour mark proved decisive, with Portugal losing their way after Hugo Almeida was hauled off for Danny while Spain burst into life after Fernando Llorente replaced a below-par Fernando Torres.

Within a minute, Llorente's point-blank header was saved by Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo while Villa fired wide.

Villa then broke the deadlock as he stabbed the ball past Eduardo at the second attempt for his fourth goal of the World Cup.

Llorente twice went close late on while Danny had a dangerous-looking shot blocked by Pique but moments later Portugal's hopes were over when referee Hector Baldassi gave Costa his marching orders for apparently lashing out at Capdevila.



England were hammered 4-1 by Germany in the second round of the World Cup, but the spotlight fell on the officials after they missed an obvious equaliser for Fabio Capello's men just before half-time.

After Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski had put Germany 2-0 up early on, Matthew Upson got one back but then Frank Lampard's goal was ruled out after the ball bounced down off the bar, despite it landing a yard over the line.

When Lampard's effort went in, only for assistant Mauricio Espinosa to miss it, grainy images of England's controversial third at Wembley in 1966 immediately sprang to mind. To his total disbelief, Capello's celebrations of what would have been an equaliser were cut short. Everyone in the ground, except the men who mattered, knew what had happened.

Germany made the most of their good fortune to book a quarter-final place, with what turned out to be their biggest win over a rival they have not lost to in a major tournament since the 1966 final. For England, it was their joint-biggest ever defeat at a World Cup.

Klose and Podolski's first half-goals were doubled by a pair from the excellent Thomas Muller after the break. But no-one will be talking about them on the streets of England. Nor will they discuss a Matthew Upson header that brought the Three Lions back into it.

Eventually they might get round to the clear defensive deficiencies in a team Capello claimed was good enough to reach the final.



England captain Steven Gerrard has backed Wayne Rooney to bag his first goal of the World Cup in Sunday's knockout clash against Germany.

The match in Bloemfontein will see the winner book a place in the quarter-finals of the tournament and Fabio Capello's team will look towards Rooney to fire them to glory after scraping through the group stages.

Rooney was widely-expected to continue his rampant goalscoring form for Manchester United in the event, but he has so far been unable to find the net and has looked sluggish as England seek to end their trophyless run in international football.

Gerrard, though, is confident the 24-year-old will finally find his form in time to inspire his team to victory against Germany.



England produced a vastly improved performance to beat Slovenia 1-0 and progress to the last 16 as Group C runners-up. The Three Lions needed to win after being held to disappointing draws by USA and Algeria in their opening two World Cup games, and responded with a dynamic display full of urgency and slick passing.

Two of the players brought into the side by Fabio Capello combined for the crucial goal on 22 minutes as James Milner delivered a superb cross from the right wing and Jermain Defoe provided the finishing touch.

England continued to dominate possession and carved out a number of good opportunities to double their advantage, with Samir Handanovic repelling Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney with athletic saves, and Defoe also flicking an effort wide.

Slovenia did carry a threat on the counter-attack and anxiety would have been spreading among England supporters as their team failed to take a more comfortable lead.

However, England stayed solid in defence and held on to the final whistle to make it through to the next round, with Slovenia dramatically bowing out as a result of USA's last-gasp winner against Algeria.



Fabio Capello says he never considered dropping John Terry after the defender's outburst, and insists confidence is high in the England camp as they prepare to face Slovenia in Wednesday's crunch match in Port Elizabeth.
England have had to deflect stories of rifts in the camp following newspaper speculation at the weekend and John Terry's press conference, when the former skipper claimed there would be frank words spoken at a team meeting.
Capello has since stated that Terry made a "big mistake" in that press conference, but insisted on Tuesday that he never considered dropping the former captain in order to punish him.
Captain Steven Gerrard, who described the game against Slovenia as "do or die'', claimed Terry's outburst is not affecting the players. Gerrard sympathises with the supporters and revealed the team are desperate to put on a better performance. He also denied that he and his team-mates had put pressure on Capello to pick Joe Cole in his team.
Capello also backed Wayne Rooney to up his game following recent criticism of his below-par performances, especially in the goalless draw with Algeria. The manager admitted it was possible he had made mistakes in England's opening two games but has called for his players to knuckle down and start battling.



David Villa almost had a perfect night as a goal in each half from the new Barcelona recruit helped Spain get their World Cup campaign back on track.

A wonderful individual effort in the first half was followed by a goal forged by brilliant movement off the ball in the second. The only thing missing was the hat-trick to crown the performance as he sidefooted wide a second-half penalty and struck the crossbar early on.

Back to their sublime best, Spain's nerves were settled after the early goal and they never looked like letting Honduras back into the game. Fluid and commanding in possession, their passing moves were a joy to watch and Iker Casillas in goal hardly had a touch.

The win was vital after the opening Group H defeat to Switzerland and Vicente Del Bosque's side finally looked to have settled into the tournament.



England captain Steven Gerrard has called on his side to announce themselves at the World Cup with a convincing win over Algeria.

The Three Lions take on Algeria in Cape Town on Friday looking to improve from their opening draw with the United States.

Gerrard insists the whole squad is determined to prove their critics wrong and show why Fabio Capello's men are regarded as one of the favourites to go all the way in South Africa.



A scrappy second-half goal by Gelson Fernandes gave Switzerland a shock 1-0 victory over World Cup favourites Spain in their Group H opener in Durban.

Although the Spaniards dominating possession, the Swiss took a surprise lead in the 52nd minute with Fernandes firing past goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Spain's Xabi Alonso was denied by the crossbar in the 71st minute as his team wasted a hatful of chances to restore parity.

Swiss' Eren Derdiyok struck the far post in the 75th minute but his hard-working team held on for an historic win against the European champions in front of 62,000 spectators at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The Swiss assured themselves of victory with an efficient performance that relied on making the most of their limited chances.



An own goal by Daniel Agger, thanks to Simon Poulsen's mistimed header, and a late Dirk Kuyt effort helped Netherlands begin their World Cup campaign with a comfortable victory over Denmark at Soccer City.

Both goals came in the second half after an assured first period of defending by the Scandinavians, who constantly thwarted a Dutch attack which appeared short of ideas without the injured Arjen Robben.

But the resistance was broken less than 60 seconds into the second half, when Robin van Persie's cross from the left was headed in the wrong direction by Simon Poulsen - he tried to head clear and sent it towards his own goal - and it struck the back of Agger and went in.

Kuyt doubled Netherlands' advantage five minutes from the end to ensure the highly-fancied Oranje a positive start in Group E.



A terrible error by Robert Green cost England two points in their World Cup opener, as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw with the United States of America.

Steven Gerrard had the Three Lions in front early on, with the new skipper leading by example throughout. However, the USA were level shortly before half-time when a tame effort from Clint Dempsey slipped through Green's grasp and into the back of the net.



England skipper Steven Gerrard has warned his team-mates to keep their cool at the World Cup to avoid any unnecessary suspensions. Discipline of England's players has come under the microscope after Wayne Rooney was booked for swearing at referee Jeff Selogilwe during Tuesday's friendly win over local side Platinum Stars.

Reports have suggested the officials for England's opening game with the USA have been learning English profanities in order to know what to listen out for. Gerrard has called on his team-mates not to get caught in the trap and underlined the importance of not losing any personnel during the tournament because of indiscipline.



Liverpool are planning a shock move for Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp. The Anfield outfit are searching for a new man at the helm after Rafa Benitez's six-year reign was brought to an end by mutual consent on Thursday. And Spurs boss Redknapp has emerged as a leading contender for the Reds hierarchy as they aim to bring stability back to Merseyside.
Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish and managing director Christian Purslow have been charged with the task of identifying and selecting a replacement. Dalglish knows Redknapp well having brought his son Jamie to Anfield in January 1991 when he was at the helm of the five-time European champions and the two families have been close ever since.


Frank Lampard believes he can forge a successful partnership with new captain Steven Gerrard in the heart of England's midfield. Gerrard has been handed the armband for the World Cup after Rio Ferdinand was ruled out with a knee problem on Thursday.
Lampard, who is now the team's vice-captain, is fully behind the decision and has no doubts that Gerrard will thrive on the added responsibility as he does at club level. Lampard and Gerrard could be asked to line up together in central midfield against USA next Saturday, with Gareth Barry doubtful due to an ankle problem.



Rafael Benitez has left Liverpool, reportedly by mutual consent. Benitez, who took over from Gerard Houllier in 2004, found his position untenable after a disappointing season which saw Liverpool finish seventh in the Premier League, just 12 months after being runners-up to Manchester United.
The club have released a statement on their official website which reads: "Liverpool FC today confirmed that Rafael Benitez is to leave the club by mutual consent.
The board has now asked Managing Director Christian Purslow, with the assistance of Club Ambassador Kenny Dalglish, to begin a formal search to identify and assess potential candidates for the managerial position.



Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt sent Holland on their way to a crushing friendly victory over disappointing Ghana in Rotterdam. Kuyt struck the game's opener on the half hour and second-half efforts from Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie saw the hosts ease home. Asamoah Gyan netted for the Africans.
Kuyt stabbed the ball home from close range after Ghana keeper Richard Kingson had parried the initial shot from van Persie. Coach Bert van Marwijk made three half-time substitutions and the Dutch struggled to make the game safe before Van der Vaart finished off a one-two with Mark van Bommel on 73 minutes.
Ghana pulled one back through Gyan before a long-range effort from Sneijder and a late penalty from Van Persie wrapped up a convincing Dutch win.



Fernando Torres believes Steven Gerrard is one of a select group of players capable of dominating the World Cup. The Liverpool midfielder is currently struggling with a calf problem, raising fears over his involvement for England in South Africa.
The Three Lions will be desperate to have the influential midfielder available, as his experience and determination could be crucial. His Anfield team-mate Torres feels England should be praying Gerrard pulls through, as he is integral to any hope they have of securing global glory.
He rates the Liverpool skipper among the world's best and believes he could single-handedly lead Fabio Capello's men to glory.


Javier Mascherano claims Argentina will fear nobody at this summer's World Cup despite their recent troubles. Diego Maradona's side scraped through qualifying, with their passage to South Africa far from convincing.
They are, however, always a dangerous proposition and will be given the utmost respect by their rivals. Mascherano feels Argentina are deserving of a standing among the World Cup favourites and insists they are in confident mood heading into the tournament.



Fernando Torres is hoping to be fully fit for Spain's World Cup opener against Switzerland next month.
The Liverpool striker underwent surgery in April after suffering torn cartilage in his right knee and was subsequently ruled out of the end of the Premier League season, leaving him in doubt for the finals in South Africa this summer.
But the 26-year-old, who also underwent a knee operation in January, insists his recovery is on track and is optimistic about his chances of playing in Spain's opening match on 16th June.


Liverpool's Maxi Rodriguez scored twice as Argentina continued their preparations for the World Cup with a 5-0 victory over Canada.
Diego Maradona named a strong starting XI, with only Lionel Messi missing from the team that is expected to take to the field in Argentina's World Cup opener.
Messi was rested after a long season with Barcelona but his absence was not felt as Argentina swept aside their limited opponents.


England picked up a victory in their last game on home soil before the World Cup with a 3-1 triumph over Mexico at Wembley.
Fabio Capello continued his excellent record as Three Lions boss but despite goals from Ledley King, Peter Crouch and Glen Johnson, the Italian will want an improved overall performance against Japan in Austria on Sunday.



Michael Owen has admitted that it feels strange that he will not be involved in England's World Cup campaign this summer. The Manchester United striker, who announced himself to the world with a wonderful goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup in France, will not be a part of this summer's tournament after a hamstring injury in March ruled him out.
The 30-year-old, once a mainstay of the England squad before injuries blighted his career, has not been selected by manager Fabio Capello to play for England since the game against France in 2008, with many speculating his international career may be over. Owen appears not to have given up hope, and has stated that he still felt very much a part of the international set-up.



England striker Peter Crouch believes he has done everything he can to make sure he is on the plane to South Africa. Boss Fabio Capello is set to trim down his preliminary 30-man World Cup squad to 23 by 1st June.
Crouch, currently involved in the England training camp in Austria, is one of five strikers in the squad, which some believe may be trimmed down to four for the finals. The Tottenham striker feels he has done everything possible for club and country this term to justify his selection in the final party.
This includes scoring the decisive goal which secured UEFA Champions League qualification for Spurs, while on the international stage the beanpole striker took his goal tally to 20 in just 37 internationals with his double against Egypt at Wembley in England's last international in March.



Netherlands winger Ryan Babel left training on Friday with an apparent injury to his right hamstring.
There was no immediate word on the severity of the Liverpool forward's injury, which was reported by Dutch media attending the training session in Austria.
Babel missed the 2008 European Championship after tearing ankle ligaments on the eve of that tournament.



Chelsea are considering making a move for Liverpool midfielder Yossi Benayoun, with the Israeli international touted as a possible replacement for the out of contract Joe Cole. Cole is apparently no nearer to resolving his contract dispute with owner Roman Abramovich, and the feelers are already out to find a suitable replacement, though Benayoun could even be recruited if Cole stays. There are ample suitors for Cole, but he would like to stay at Stamford Bridge if he can come to an agreement over new terms.
However, a list of possible replacements has been put to manager Carlo Ancelotti and the Israeli is highly thought of by the Italian coach, who has now a much clearer picture of the players in the Premier League after his first season in charge of the club. He is also clearer about what is needed to improve the team that won the Double, but fell short in the Champions League.



Fernando Torres will be the subject of a world record bid from Chelsea within days. The total package of transfer fee and salary will make Torres a staggering £130 million investment. And Soccernet has been informed that owner Roman Abramovich is personally taking control of the project to bring the Liverpool striker to Chelsea.
Torres has been linked with Chelsea, Manchester City, Barcelona and Real Madrid for a some time but the Blues will be first to make a concrete offer. Abramovich is ready to release the cash following a Premier League and FA Cup double this season, but he is also acutely aware he could cut an alternative deal with Liverpool in need of new players.



Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque has named injured trio Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta in his initial 30-man World Cup squad, while uncapped Barcelona forward Pedro is also included.
Del Bosque has selected five goalkeepers in the list, with uncapped duo Victor Valdes of Barcelona and Atletico Madrid youngster David De Gea likely to be battling out with Villarreal's Diego Lopez to see who will be joining Iker Casillas and Jose Reina in the final squad.
Provisional Squad:
Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), David De Gea (Atletico Madrid), Diego Lopez (Villarreal), Jose Reina (Liverpool) Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid) Cesar Azpilicueta (Osasuna), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Carlos Marchena (Valencia), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergi Busquets (Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal), Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Javi Martinez (Athletic Bilbao) Marcos Senna (Villarreal), David Silva (Valencia), Xavi (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal), Jesus Navas (Sevilla), Juan Manuel Mata (Valencia) Pedro Rodriguez (Barcelona), Dani Guiza (Fenerbache) Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Fernando Torres (Liverpool FC) and David Villa (Valencia).