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Spain won the World Cup for the first time when they beat Netherlands 1-0 after extra time thanks to a goal by midfielder Andres Iniesta.
With penalties looming for the second successive final Iniesta fired home the winner when he was put through in the area by Cesc Fabregas.
Nobody in Spain will care but it was a ragged final, marred by a record 13 yellow cards and one red.
It was the third World Cup final loss for the Dutch after 1974 and 1978.
Former South Africa President Nelson Mandela briefly visited Soccer City stadium just before the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands on Sunday, capping South Africa's joy over a successful tournament.
The much loved former leader, 91, who is in frail health, briefly toured the pitch in a golf cart surrounded by bodyguards before the match.
He was greeted ecstatically by the crowd in the huge flagship Soccer City stadium who chanted his clan name Madiba and blew vuvuzela trumpets.
Before Mandela's appearance, Colombian singer Shakira led a glitzy closing ceremony, singing the official World Cup song 'Waka Waka' with local group Freshly Ground.
Throughout the day ahead of the evening match, as excitement built, hordes of orange and red clad Dutch and Spanish fans tried to out-do each other with songs and the most outlandish outfits as locals gleefully joined the party, painting their faces and wearing the flag of their favourites.
Spotlights, fireworks and lasers lit up the night sky, and giant puppet elephants paraded around the pitch.
Sunday's final was the first for Spain and third for the Dutch, who were runners up in 1974 and 1978.
The successful tournament is triumph for South Africa which has confounded years of foreign reports that it would be a failure, ruined by violent crime, chaos and unfinished stadiums.
President Jacob Zuma thanked the nation, saying they were stars and champions for hosting a successful tournament and "opening up your country and your hearts to the world."
Despite being the first host nation eliminated at the group stage, locals have remained enthusiastic spectators, helping this World Cup to be the third best attended ever, with 3 million seats sold, behind the United States in 1994 and Germany in 2006.
A man wearing an anti-racism T-shirt ran on to the pitch minutes before the start of the World Cup final and came very close to grabbing the trophy exhibited on the pitch.
Wearing a red hat and a T-shirt that read "Jimmy Jump against racism" the man managed to slip through tight security and raced on to the pitch in front of close to 90,000 spectators at the Soccer City stadium.
Several security men and stewards managed to wrestle him to the ground as he was about to snatch the trophy, positioned on a stand just inside the touchline.
He was carried away by seven security men as the teams of Netherlands and Spain were about to walk on to the pitch for the national anthems and the start of the final.
European champions Spain had looked the more assured early on in the clash at Soccer City as a nervous-looking Dutch side ceded territory to their slick opponents.
Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg was forced into a save after five minutes when Sergio Ramos headed a Xavi cross goalwards while Spain forward David Villa crashed a volley into the side netting with the goal looming.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque left Fernando Torres out of his starting lineup for Sunday's World Cup final against Netherlands, replacing the misfiring striker with Pedro for a second straight match.
Dutch defender Nigel de Jong was shown a yellow card by English referee Howard Webb for a rash challenge on Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso.
A series of freekicks and bookings, including two strong challenges by Dutch midfielders de Jong and Mark van Bommel, shook Spain out of their rhythm and stopped them from producing the swift-passing game that got them to the final.
The defeat was heartbreaking for the Dutch, who were down to 10 men after John Heitinga was sent off in extra time.
Netherlands had to play with a man less for the last 10 minutes of extra time after Heitinga was sent off for hauling down Iniesta on the edge of the box.
Andres Iniesta fired home the winner when he was put through in the area by Cesc Fabregas.
Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg dived to his right and got a hand to the ball he could not keep it out.
Spain, appearing in their first final, become the second team after West Germany in 1974 to follow up winning the European championship by lifting the biggest prize of all.
The Spaniards were also the first European team to win the World Cup on a foreign continent as they became the eighth name on the trophy first played for in 1930.
The victory sees Spain join Brazil (five times winners), Italy (four), Germany (three), Uruguay (two), Argentina (two), England and France as world champions.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque showered rich praise on his players for winning the World Cup.
"It was a very difficult match," said del Bosque. "We have fantastic players. We could have scored another goal or two but I think the result was deserved. It's a very happy day for me. Naturally, I'm proud."
"It's unbelievable, incredible," added goalscorer Andres Iniesta. "It cost a lot of energy. To win a World Cup is an indescribable feeling. This was our work that we started a long time ago, it was hard work, but we're savouring this now."