A vintage Netherlands side comprehensively outplayed and defeated world champions Spain in the opening Group B game of the 2014 World Cup in Salvador.
The 2010 silver-medallists came back from a goal down to win 5-1 , sending a bold statement as to their title credentials whilst avenging the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the final four years ago.
In what turned out to be a classic display of attacking football, the Dutch – led by the excellent duo of Arjen Robben and captain Robin Van Persie – brought the Spanish to their knees, stunning the billions who watched the game world wide.
Xabi Alonso put the Spanish ahead on 26 minutes, beating Dutch goalie Jasper Cillessen from the spot after striker Diego Costa had been brought down by Stefan De Vrij. Amid the goal celebrations, La Roja would have imagined the humiliation that would follow.
Louis Van Gaal’s men seized control of the game in a bid to land an equalizer and were duly rewarded two minutes before half time.
Van Persie stole his way behind the Spanish defence and leapt spectacularly to head in a brilliant Daley Blind long ball from just after the half way line. The diving header, from roughly 16 yards out, caught Casillas – who had come off his line – ball-watching as the ball looped into the net in what was arguably an early contender for goal of the tournament.
Bouyed by the goal, the Dutch returned from the break in high spirits, and found themselves in the lead eight minutes in.
In a build-up that was identical to the first goal, another brilliant long ball from Blind found Robben, who took a delightful first touch in the box in between the Spanish central defensive duo of Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos. The bald winger then turned Pique and calmly slotted the ball past Casillas.
Five minutes later, Van Persie rattled the crossbar after being set-up by Daryl Janmaat, who had received a pass after an exciting run by Robben.
At that point, it would only be a matter of time before the Dutch got another goal, and it eventually came on 62 minutes, as Stefan De Vrij made amends for conceding the first half penalty to head in his first international goal at the far post off a Wesley Sneijder free kick.
The Spanish thought they had pulled one back five minutes later but David Silva’s tap in was ruled offside.
Casillas’ poor display on the day was summed up when he committed a grave error, woefully miscontrolling a back pass for Van Persie to pounce to complete his brace.
Robben completed the rout by grabbing his own brace, going on an electrifying solo run and rounding up a crawling Casillas.
In what turned out to be one of the World Cup’s most historic games, the Spanish, utterly pulverized, were left to mope in the wake of what was their second heaviest defeat ever suffered.
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