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Spain erupts in nationwide fiesta as 'dream comes true'

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Andres Iniesta Goal Wins World Cup For La Furia Roja

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Spain are champions of the world after Andres Iniesta's goal deep into extra-time gave them victory over Netherlands in the World Cup final at Soccer City after a goalless first 105 minutes.
Iniesta netted as Spain broke to punish 10-man Holland after John Heitinga's sending-off seven minutes earlier.
Both sides lined up as expected. Netherlands continued with the 1 to 11 which has been Bert van Marwijk’s first choice line -up since Arjen Robben’s return from injury, while Vicente Del Bosque favoured Barcelona’s Pedro to Liverpool’s Fernando Torres just as he had for the semi-final victory over Germany.
At the renditions of the national anthems there were signs of nerves across the faces of players on each side, everyone concerned knowing that they could make history for their country by claiming the moniker of world champions for the first time.

The opening few minutes were notable mainly for the inability of either side to really string a significant series of passes together as every player looked to get a calming first touch of the ball. But in the fifth minute Spain created a real opportunity for themselves as they started to impress their authority on proceedings.

Xavi sent a free-kick in from the right to find the Sergio Ramos, who had gained half a yard on the flinching Robin van Persie, but the right-back’s header came from an awkward height and allowed Maarten Stekelenburg to make a full-length parry to keep the scores level.

Holland’s first shot at goal came when Dirk Kuyt scuffed a 30-yard effort after Sergio Busquets had failed to control a simple square pass, but the Liverpool wide man’s effort was easily gathered by Iker Casillas.

In the 11th minute Spain created a second decent opportunity, and again it was full-back Ramos who was the Johnny on the spot. Having run at Giovanni van Bronckhorst, he took a step to the right and saw a gap open up, but his right-footed effort was well blocked by Joris Mathijsen.

From the resulting corner Xavi Hernandez swung in a delicious far post ball for David Villa, but the striker’s volleyed effort hit the side-netting when he’d have hoped to do better.

The game was beginning to get a little scrappy as the Netherlands looked to find a way to earn more possession. Van Persie was the first player to enter referee Howard Webb’s notebook when he brought down Joan Capdevila with a nasty looking challenge, and moments later he was followed by Carles Puyol, booked for a tackle from behind on Arjen Robben.

Wesley Sneijder fired in a dangerous free-kick, but Casillas managed to collect before the ball took a potentially nasty bounce. Winger Robben was temporarily the centre of attention as within minutes he was running at Capdevila, eventually winning a corner as Xabi Alonso came in to cover.

The near-inevitable Mark van Bommel booking arrived in the 22nd minute, when he was late arriving for the ball and went right through Andres Iniesta. Seconds later it was 2-2 on the yellow card count after Ramos was slightly late sliding in on Kuyt wide on the Holland left.

Whilst Spain were still enjoying most of the possession, suddenly the Netherlands were managing to earn more territorial advantage, breaking up the rhythm of la Furia Roja’s passing temporarily. They did so by foul means rather than fair when Nigel de Jong’s high boot caught Alonso flush on the chest after the Real Madrid midfielder had nicked away a bouncing ball. The Oranje midfielder may have thought himself lucky only to become the fifth player cautioned, rather than the first man into the showers.

There was a much more pleasing piece of sportsmanship shown by the Dutch a few moments later. Iker Casillas had thrown the ball out after he’d collided with Puyol, allowing the Barcelona defender to receive treatment, but upon arrival of the long pass from a Dutchman at the restart, the keeper misread the flight and palm the ball away for a corner. However, Van Persie simply rolled the ball in from the flag to spare the Real Madrid man’s blushes and allow Spain to rebuild from the back.

The next Dutch corner nearly had a very different ending. Robben played the ball in low to the edge of the area, from where Van Bommel played a cross to the far post for Mathijsen, but the centre-back could only respond with a complete air shot.

Breaking up the other end, Spain could have had an opener when Pedro’s quickfire shot from range sailed just wide with Stekelenburg still to set himself.

Sneijder almost became the sixth name in the book when he caught Busquets just before the break as the game continued to flatter rather than thrill, but referee Webb saw fit to give the Inter midfielder a final warning.

On the stroke of half-time the Dutch created one of the best chances of the game so far when Robben cut inside to drill a low left foot shot which Casillas got down to and pushed wide.

Spain appeared to come out after the interval with a little bit more fire in their bellies as they looked to repeat their second half efforts against Germany. Within three minutes they’d forged an opening when Puyol got his head to a right wing corner and Capdevila failed to get anywhere near enough on his right foot effort and the ball ran harmlessly away.

Holland responded when Van Persie’s backheel sent Gregory van der Wiel in behind the Spanish defence, but his cross was met by no Oranje jerseys, though a nervous looking Casillas may have got a slight touch before the ball ran out and a goal kick was given.

Dutch skipper Van Bronckhorst was next in the book for pulling back Ramos as he went for a return pass in a dangerous position. From the set piece Xavi curled the ball just wide of the near post, but Stekelenburg had it well covered.

John Heitinga soon became the fifth Dutchman to have his name taken when he clattered into David Villa after Ramos had broken up a Holland attack and sent the forward on the run down the left.

Iniesta was perhaps lucky not to join them as the game once again threatened to deteriorate, his foul on Sneijder giving Robben the chance to swing in a free-kick towards Heitinga. The defender sent a header just across the face of goal, but had been flagged offside in any case.

Mathijsen did well to head away from a Capdevila cross as a game of football finally started to break out amongst the scrappy challenges.

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque made the first change of the final on the hour by introducing Jesus Navas for the ineffective Pedro.

Suddenly, the best chance of the final was handed to Robben by a delicious through ball by Sneijder and a bad misjudgement on the part of Gerard Pique. The Bayern Munich winger found himself one-on-one with Casillas, but after delaying once too often, his shot sent the glovesman the wrong way, but was blocked by Casillas’ boot nonetheless.

Capdevila joined the ever-increasing list of numbers in Howard Webb’s notebook but again the Netherlands failed to make the most of the resulting free-kick as they continued to get half-chances to show up the favourites.

Substitute Navas did superbly to run at Van Bronckhorst and make space to cross for David Villa, but after Heitinga had slipped to open a really shooting opportunity for the Spaniard the centre-back recovered magnificently to block the shot that followed.

Dirk Kuyt was replaced after a hard-working performance in favour of speedy winger Eljero Elia as Van Marwijk looked to keep Spain guessing at the back.

Heitinga conceded a further free-kick, which Villa could only tun over, before Sneijder got a second final warning from Howard Webb as the referee looked to save his ink with just 15 minutes separating the World Cup decider from extra-time.

After an excellent exchange between Villa and Xavi, the former had a left foot shot well blocked by Heitinga, but from the corner Sergio Ramos was guilty of wasting a magnificent chance to settle the contest as he headed over from eight yards when completely unmarked.

There was a real flashpoint in the 78th minute when Van Bommel caught Iniesta as he retrieved the ball, but the Spanish midfielder decided to take his own retribution by lashing out at the Bayern Munich man. Again, Webb decided that leniency was the correct course of action and Iniesta got away with only a lecture.

Iniesta then came extremely close to opening the deadlock when he jinked past Heitinga inside the box, but Wesley Sneijder of all people was sweeping up behind the defence and made a magnificent last-ditch challenge to save the Dutch.

In the 83rd minute it was Holland’s Robben who could have struck as he left Puyol and Pique in his wake before Casillas smothered the ball. The Bayern Munich winger exaggerated his contact with the keeper having shrugged off a near rugby tackle from Puyol, but all he succeeded in doing was earning a yellow card for his fall and subsequent penalty claims.

Spain’s second substitution saw Xabi Alonso replaced by Cesc Fabregas in an attacking change with just three minutes of normal time remaining.

Wesley Sneijder looked to steal a glorious victory on the stroke of full-time, but his ambitious 45 yard effort went harmlessly wide.

Within two minutes of the extra 30 minutes resuming, Spain thought they should have had a penalty when Heitinga and Xavi collided, but it looked as though the midfielder made contact with the Dutchman rather than the other way around.

The European champions then forced a real save out of Stekelenburg for the first time since the early moments of normal time as Fabregas broke clear, but the big goalkeeper did superbly to block his right foot shot.

Within seconds they were nearly behind when Casillas came for a corner and collided with Fabregas, leaving Mathijsen to beat Ramos in the air but miss the open goal.

It then took a magnificent piece of defending from Van Bronckhorst to keep the scores level as the game became more stretched. Fabregas sent Iniesta through, but the Dutch skipper did brilliantly to send Iniesta onto his wrong foot and then snuff out the danger, winning a goal kick to boot.

Bert van Marwijk decided to increase the attacking intentions of his team by bringing on Rafael van der Vaart for defensive midfielder De Jong.

In a now very open game, Jesus Navas’ shot deflected off Van Bronckhorst and found the side-netting before the Netherlands cleared the corner with relative ease.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst was then substituted into retirement, replaced by Edson Braafheid.

After spending over an hour warming up, Fernando Torres was finally introduced at the beginning of the second period of extra-time, surprisingly enough for the tournament’s joint top scorer David Villa in a like for like switch.

Elia went on his first attack at Ramos and beat the full-back with ease, but couldn’t reach his overhit touch before getting a cross in as Holland continued to look the more worried by the prospect of penalty kicks.

After so many yellow cards it appeared only a matter of time before a red would follow and with only 11 minutes remaining it finally came, though it did seem a little harsh on John Heitinga when he became the fifth player to be dismissed in a World Cup final.

The Dutch defender laid a soft hand on the shoulder of Andres Iniesta as the Barcelona man broke front and centre, but an exaggerated fall came after contact had been released. Nevertheless, Howard Webb saw fit to send off Heitinga for a second offence.

Moments later the 10 men were hit with another yellow when Van der Wiel took down the self same Iniesta.

Many Spain players asked for Holland to be reduced to nine when Robben turned in a left foot effort long after the whistle had gone for offside, but Webb, not for the first time tonight, showed leniency towards a man walking the tightrope.

With five minutes left a Wesley Sneijder free-kick was clearly met with a heavy deflection off Fabregas in the wall, but the referee’s rough night continued when he failed to spot the touch and gave a goal kick. There was then an apparent foul on Elia on the edge of the area overlooked as Holland looked for a winner.

And the decision was to be vital as Spain broke to the other end of the pitch and scored a 116th minute winner.

With the 10-man Dutch stretched, the Furia Roja used the extra man as Andres Iniesta got on the end of a crossfield ball at the far post to drill across Stekelenburg into the back of the net.

Spain's only bad news of the night came when Torres pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury in the second minute of injury time, but he'll be taking a World Cup winner's medal to the treatment table with him.

Diego Forlan Wins Golden Ball As Germany's Thomas Mueller Takes Young Player Award & Golden Boot

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Following Spain's 2010 World Cup final triumph over the Netherlands, Uruguay striker Diego Forlan picked up the Golden Ball award while young Germany forward Thomas Mueller took the Best Young Player accolade as well as the Golden Boot.

Atletico Madrid striker Forlan proved to be one of the star performers in South Africa, beating off competition from the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Spain hitman David Villa to be crowned the tournament's best player - as voted for by the media.

Forlan was, however, pipped to the post when it came to the Golden Boot, with Thomas Mueller's five goals and three assists for Germany edging him ahead of Silver Boot winner Villa and Holland playmaker Sneijder who picked up the bronze award.

Mueller also claimed the Best Young Player gong for his impressive performances in South Africa, beating both Ghana's Andre Ayew and Mexico's Giovanni Dos Santos to claim the prize.

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who made a string of impressive saves in Spain's final triumph over the Netherlands, claimed the Golden Glove while Vicente del Bosque's side were also recognised with the Fair Play Award.

France 0-2 Mexico

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Two second-half goals gave Mexico their first ever victory over France to leave El Tri well-placed to make the last 16 and the 2006 runners-up on the verge of elimination.
Mexico were the brighter of the two throughout but were unable to take any of their chances until just after the hour, when substitute Javier Hernandez broke the offside trap and rounded keeper Hugo Lloris before slotting home.
Another Mexican substitute, the 37-year-old Cuauhtemoc Blanco, sealed the victory from the penalty spot after a third replacement, Pablo Barrera, had been felled in the box.
It leaves Mexico level at the top of Group A with Uruguay and a draw between those two sides in their final game in Rustenburg would send France out of the tournament.
Mexico and France met in the first ever World Cup finals match in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1930, with Les Bleus cruising to a 4-1 victory, but this keenly contested encounter was never likely to reproduce such a scoreline.

Both teams showed greater endeavour than in their drawn opening games, with France in particular looking more lively, but for long periods neither possessed the cutting edge to truly punish their opponents.
The French squad is reportedly in disarray, with suggestions of a training ground bust-up between coach Raymond Domenech and midfielder Florent Malouda, who was not selected for their uninspired 0-0 draw with Uruguay, and they have been criticised by former midfielder Zinedine Zidane.
However, Malouda was recalled in place of Yoann Gourcuff in a line-up that kept faith with a world class strike-force, spearheaded by Nicolas Anelka, that has failed to register an international goal since last November.
Malouda showed rare glimpses of the form he showed throughout last season for Chelsea, forcing Mexico keeper Oscar Perez to palm over early in the second half, having earlier begun a free-kick routine straight off the training ground that saw Frank Ribery flash a drive across goal.
This was the closest Ribery would come to affecting the game from his central playmaker role and, as against Uruguay, Anelka was largely anonymous and was replaced at half-time by Andre-Pierre Gignac, who also offered little in his 45 minutes on the pitch.
Mexico's attack is exciting but too often lightweight. Their forwards missed numerous chances in their opening 1-1 draw with hosts South Africa but all three players retained their place in the side - although Arsenal striker Carlos Vela was forced off with an injury on the half hour with only one skied shot to his name.
Another member of their attacking triumvirate, Tottenham's Giovani Dos Santos, produced another lively display to match the one he produced against South Africa and, but for Patrice Evra's presence, would have been able to get greater purchase on a shot that bobbled wide just before half-time.
Mexico's chief offensive weapon in the first half was left-back Oscar Salcido, who regularly found himself in advanced positions, but his execution could not match his intent.
He had two good shooting opportunities in the first half but from the first he shot wide of the far post from 25 yards, and then saw a close-range effort blocked by France keeper Lloris after William Gallas had inexplicably backed away from Salcido's run.
The opening of the second half had seen a clear dip in quality from what had been a decent first 45 minutes, but two positive Mexican substitutes - Hernandez and Blanco - altered that, with a third, Vela's replacement Barrera, also playing a part.
In the 64th minute, Marquez chipped a ball forward from midfield, Eric Abidal played the Manchester United-bound striker onside and with the French defence static and begging for offside, Hernandez was able to advance onwards, skip round Lloris and slot into the vacated goal.
France's response was meek at best but the Mexicans, by now full of confidence, continued to press and were rewarded when Barrera was tripped and Blanco charged in from outside the box to dispatch his penalty into the right-hand corner of the net.

4 Star Argentina sinks South Korea ( Argentina 4-1 South Korea )

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Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick as Argentina saw off South Korea at Soccer City to all but book their place in the last 16 of the World Cup.
Higuain struck once in the first half and twice in quick succession after the break as Diego Maradona's side made it two wins out of two in Group B and fired another warning that they are one of the teams to beat in South Africa.
An own goal from Park Chu-Young got Argentina off to the perfect start before Higuain nodded in, and after Martin Dimichelis' error allowed Lee Chung-Yong to pull a goal back, Maradona's side got the goals their dominance perhaps deserved.
It was an authority they had exerted from the first whistle and, despite a spell of South Korean pressure in the second half as they pressed for an equaliser, Argentina were thoroughly deserving of the points.

South Korea coach Huh Jung-Moo, who played against Maradona at the 1986 World Cup, saw his team struggle to live with Argentina's quick tempo and the quality of their pass-and-move football.
They took the lead when Lionel Messi's free-kick from the left hit the unfortunate Park Chu-Young on the knee before flying in and the goal buoyed an already buzzing Albiceleste as they continued to attack the South Korea goal with pace and in numbers.
South Korea's brief forays forward were resulting in the occasional shot from range, with Ki Sung-Yeung's 25-yard screamer flying narrowly over, but after Carlos Tevez had drilled a free-kick inches too high, Argentina doubled their lead thanks to more shaky defending.
This time, Messi and Maxi Rodriguez were allowed all the time and space they wanted to take a quick free-kick down the left and when Maxi's cross was flicked on by Nicolas Burdisso, Higuain had the simple task of nodding in.
Angel di Maria then forced a flying save from Jung Sung-Ryong, and Messi thrilled the crowd with a brilliantly jinking run before clipping a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
But with half-time looming, Dimichelis handed South Korea an unlikely lifeline. Caught between deciding to clear his lines or pass back to his goalkeeper he did neither, and Lee nipped in to steal the ball off him and superbly finish past the advancing Sergio Romero.
Suddenly there was a game on, and the teams traded attacks after the break.
Higuain's close-range finish brought a stunning save from Jung, and Tevez forced another save from Jung with his 20-yard drive, while at the other end Yeom Ki-Hun wasted a golden chance to get South Korea back on level terms as he shot wide when through one-on-one with Romero after Lee's fine pass.
Yeom paid the price when Argentina counter-attacked, and after Messi's shot hit the post Higuain tapped in. But they saved their best for last as Messi's stunning chip enabled Sergio Aguero to cross for Higuain to head home to complete his treble.
It was the first World Cup hat-trick since Portugal's Pauleta in 2002 and the first from an Argentine since Gabriel Batistuta in 1998.

South Africa 0-3 Uruguay

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Uruguay produced an assured performance to beat hosts South Africa in Pretoria and take control of Group A.
The South Americans were much more forward-thinking than during their nervous opening match with France five days ago providing a constant threat to Bafana Bafana's goal while also nullifying the meek attacking threat provided by their overwhelmed opponents.
Diego Forlan capped an impressive performance with two goals - the first a 30-yard deflected strike, the second a well-taken penalty after Luis Suarez had been fouled by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, for which he was red carded - and Alvaro Pereira added a late third.
The victory not only advances Uruguay to four points and to top of the table ahead of their final group game with Mexico, but gives them their first World Cup finals victory since a group stage win over South Korea at Italia 90.
In contrast, this defeat is South Africa's first in 14 matches and leaves them facing an uphill task to secure a place in the last 16.
Prior to the game, both coaches had promised more positive approaches from their sides following conservative showings in their opening games, which yielded them a point a piece, and so it proved in an entertaining match that not only improved on what Group A had offered, but what the tournament on the whole has provided thus far.
Bafana Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira kept essentially the same side - Tsepo Masilela replaced Lucas Thwala at left-back - and the same shape from the 1-1 draw with Mexico. Their performance was more in keeping with their passionate second-half display at Soccer City rather than their nervous first 45 minutes, but they were unable to pose enough of a threat to trouble their superior opponents.
Having navigated a tricky opening game against France relatively unscathed and knowing here lay their chance to seize control of Group A, Uruguay opted for a three man strike force, bringing in Edinson Cavani to partner Suarez, with Atletico Madrid's Forlan playing in a withdrawn attacking role.
The former Manchester United striker was the difference - dropping deep to collect possession and influence his side's attacks and providing the moment of individual brilliance that gave Uruguay the lead midway through the first half via a 30-yard dipping shot that found the net via a glancing deflection off Aaron Mokoena.
He also demonstrated an immense level of composure to emphatically hammer his penalty into the roof of the net following a considerable wait while the hosts replaced Khune with substitute keeper Moneeb Josephs.
The 75th-minute penalty prompted a silent, defeated exodus from the stands and when Forlan floated an exquisite pass to Suarez who then crossed for Alvaro Perreira to head home Uruguay's third deep into injury time the stadium was only half full.
For all their disappointment, the partisan home support can have no complaints as Oscar Tabarez's side were dominant. They set out their stall in an opening 10 minutes that saw them create more chances than in the whole of the 90 against the French, with Suarez's shot from a tight angle that flew wide the best of them.
Suarez, who is so prolific in front of goal for club side Ajax, was to squander further chances: hitting the side-netting from a tight angle from 10 yards and also firing straight at keeper Khune from a promising position 20 yards out.
His strike partner Edison Cavani also missed two good opportunities and captain Diego Lugano fluffed a header from a Forlan free-kick early in the second half.
South Africa's chances were significantly fewer but their wastefulness mirrored the worst of their opponents' attempts.

Siphiwe Tshabalala - brim full of confidence after his superb opening goal against the Mexicans - had two good shooting chances in the opening quarter but the first he fired over from 25 yards and the second he badly misjudged with an attempted chip when Steven Pienaar was perhaps better placed to receive a pass.
Katlego Mphela, who was denied giving his side a win against Mexico by a post late on - missed the target with a close range header in each half.
South Africa now face a final group game against France without suspended keeper Khune, midfielder Dikgachoi, who picked up a second yellow of the tournament, and with only slim hopes of qualifying.

Switzerland drowns the mighty SPAIN (Spain 0-1 Switzerland )

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World Cup favourites Spain suffered a shock defeat by Switzerland as South Africa 2010 served up its first major upset.
The European champions enjoyed almost total control of the game in Durban but were wasteful in front of goal and went behind after 52 minutes when a long ball eventually found its way through to Gelson Fernandes, who, after a series of errors, bundled it into the net.
With Barcelona trio David Villa, Andres Iniesta and Xavi unable to conjure a breakthrough, coach Vicente Del Bosque threw on Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas and Pedro, but to no avail as the Spanish slumped to only their second defeat in 49 games.
The result piles pressure on Spain, who were widely-tipped to finally end decades of underachievement on the game's biggest stage and Del Bosque's men could now be forced to face Brazil in the second round if they finish Group H as runners-up. Chile beat Honduras 1-0 in the earlier match.
For the unfancied Swiss, it was a historic first victory over the Spanish and another triumph in the glittering career of their German coach Ottmar Hitzveld.
Del Bosque's men had quickly settled into their rhythmic short passing game and, with Switzerland struggling to get the ball out of their own half, the match came to resemble a training session.
The first real opening fell to Spain right-back Sergio Ramos, who received the ball in space on the right before dragging his shot wastefully wide, much to the anger of his better-placed team-mates Xavi and David Villa.
Moments later, Iniesta slipped a pass through to Gerard Pique, who cut inside his man before firing straight at goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
The next attack saw David Silva chip a delightful ball over the Switzerland defence for Iniesta, who was brought down on the edge of the area as he tried to get his shot away. Villa fired the resultant free-kick straight at the wall.
The Swiss were forced into a change midway through the half when former Arsenal defender Philippe Senderos limped off with a foot injury and was replaced by Steve Von Bergen.
Lone striker Villa looked skilful and lively, but when he finally found space in the box, he opted to pass, and chipped tamely across the face of goal.
The second half began in a similar vein until the Swiss took the lead with the first real attack of the game.
A long goal-kick was flicked through to Eren Derdiyok, who bundled it past goalkeeper Iker Casillas and the falling Pique to leave former Manchester City midfielder Fernandes with a simple finish.

Spain, who won all 10 of their World Cup qualifiers, looked visibly shaken and Del Bosque responded by sending on Torres and Navas just after the hour mark.
Iniesta and Torres both curled shots wide before former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso almost broke the crossbar with a stunning strike from just outside the area.
With Spain committing more men forward, the game became stretched and Switzerland came within a whisker of taking a 2-0 lead when Derdiyok cut inside Pique and Carles Puyol before flicking a shot which had Casillas beaten but bounced back off the post.
The last 10 minutes were a predictable Spanish onslaught but, with Torres looking rusty on his return from knee surgery, Spain seemed to run out of ideas as their efforts became increasingly desperate.
As it was, Switzerland held firm for a truly memorable victory - their first in a World Cup opener since 1954.