Joga Bonito (“Play Beautiful”), Good People.

When it comes to a sporting event as storied and grand as a World Cup Final played between The Netherlands and Spain, soccer connoisseurs hope for a masterpiece, a Van Gogh or a Picasso, a shimmering jewel of a match to which they can proudly point and proclaim “Behold, tis truly ‘The Beautiful Game!'”

Instead, sometimes all you get is crude, Crayola caveman stick figures sketched on scraps of refrigerator art that are piled on top of one another and held together by kitschy, “See Rock City”-style magnets and always seem to slip and fall into that difficult-to-reach crevice between the counter and the fridge whenever you open the door to get some 1% milk for your morning cereal, only to find that one of your teenage sons has finished off the last of it a few hours before as a 2:00 AM snack. And not only that, the dude ate the last of the brownies.

But that’s okay. Soccer aficionados are used to being disappointed like that. We hope for the best but are always prepared to accept the worst.

And it could have been worse, believe me. It could have gone to penalty kicks.

But fortunately, quiet, understated Spanish attacking center-midfielder Andrés Iniesta waited patiently for 119 minutes–steady, steady–and finally found a sliver of time and space courtesy of substitute Cesc Fábregas’ little laser of a pass. It was a canvas large enough for Iniesta to create his own everlasting piece of art and add some much-needed color to an otherwise drab, ugly affair that at times resembled a pay-per-view mixed martial arts fight more than it did a gallery exhibition.

Holland’s apparent match plan was so crude, even Dutch great Johann Cryuff, creator of that wonderful Houdini two-step that nearly always works even when the defender knows it’s coming, disowned his own country.

I saw one friend comment on Facebook, cogently I thought, that it takes a lot of yellow and red to make orange. Or in this case, Oranje. The Flying Dutchmen knew going in that they would have to play physically in order to interrupt the Spain’s stingy possession. They did so in spades. They will, for a while at least, be known as “The Dirty Dutch.” A mixture of criminal challenges and diving theatrics had center referee Howard Webb, a full-time police sergeant, wishing that he had brought along his cuffs and nightstick to complement his pocketful of yellow and red cards.

Still, Webb was loathe to send off Netherland’s Nigel de Jong with a straight red following his horrible challenge, a stud-filled Kung Fu kick into the chest of Xabi Alonso, and no doubt cool to the idea of making the call that would have decided the match so early. A man-up, Spain would have piled it on at that point.

So when Webb finally finally did show the red to Dutch center-back and defensive stalwart John Heitinga after his light touch on the shoulder of David Villa (¡Bravo!, David, ¡Bravo!), justice was served. It took little time for La Roja to probe and discover the leaky holes in the Holland’s defensive dike, and there weren’t enough Dutch boys left on the pitch at that point to stem the oncoming flood.

Justice. At the end of the day, we soccer aficionados, those of us who wax rapturously, even orgasmically, about “The Beautiful Game,” care deeply about it. Spain, recognized far and wide as the best team in the world in recent years and a pre-tournament favorite, survived a tortuous gauntlet to emerge as rightful Campeones of the World.  ¡Enhorabuena España!, and well done.

We care about justice off the pitch as well. We would prefer that host country South Africa, whose own team played so joyfully and freely that they slew soccer giant and former champion France, who stepped up to the challenge of hosting the World’s Largest Party when many thought it too big a task for its people and resources, be given its appropriate due.

Its right and just reward, unsullied by sons of Hell who would massacre innocents gathered to watch something as benign as a World Cup Final. Yes, we would prefer that cowardly bastards like that receive their just deserts. But we may have to wait until extra time, and then some, before that finally happens.

I can’t help but reflect on a messy, choppy, sometimes artful, sometimes awful affair like this past World Cup Final and consider how it mirrors and tracks my own life. I know that my own 119th minute is coming in some form or fashion. When it does, I hope I can hold the ball–steady, steady–and keep my head about me half as well as Iniesta.

Joga Bonito (“Play Beautiful”), good people.