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Netherlands v Spain

De Jong happy with 'curious' decision

July 12, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Netherlands midfielder Nigel de Jong has admitted he was fortunate to avoid a red card for his challenge on Xabi Alonso during the World Cup final.

Nigel de Jong plants his studs into Xabi Alonso's chest
GettyImagesNigel de Jong hit Xabi Alonso with a chest-high challenge in the World Cup final

Netherlands 0-1 Spain
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De Jong made a chest-high tackle on Alonso during the first half but, after furious protests from Spain, he escaped with just a booking.

"Yes, I was concerned it might be worse than a yellow," he said. "It looked worse, although to be honest I didn't see the opponent coming in from the side.

"I was really focused on the ball and I caught him on his chest. It was a bit curious but he gave the yellow card so for me it was a little bit of luck."

Many in the Netherlands have criticised referee Howard Webb for his performance on the night but, while De Jong says his failure to award a corner following a clearly deflected Wesley Sneijder free-kick was "strange", he says the official should not be scapegoated.

"It is easy to blame the referee," he said. "There were some strange decisions and everyone, in the stadium and on TV, could see we should have had a clear corner when he gave a goal-kick to Spain. On the next attack they score.

"What can you do about that? He will realise what he did when he sees the replay, but I am not saying the biggest fault was with the referee.

"I know him from the Premier League and have never had a problem with him. He refereed the Champions League final at the end of the season so he has a lot of experience. I like the referees in the Premier League. Howard is not a bad referee, but sometimes you don't have your luckiest games. Unfortunately, in the final, he did not have his luckiest game."