Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

World Cup: Spain's Friday the 13th horror show as Netherlands run riot

BESTPIX - SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands scores the teams first goal with a diving header in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
BESTPIX - SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands scores the teams first goal with a diving header in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Netherlands' Robin van Persie dribbles Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas before scoring during the group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Netherlands' Robin van Persie celebrates with teammate Arjen Robben, right, after his scoring his side's fourth goal during the second half of the group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
Netherlands players celebrate after scoring their third goal during the group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Spain's Xabi Alonso scores a penalty kick during the group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: David Silva of Spain scores a goal but it is disallowed during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrates after scoring his second goal and his teams fourth during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Iker Casillas of Spain reacts after allowing the Netherlands fourth goal to Robin van Persie during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands shoots and scores his second goal and teams fourth against Gerard Pique of Spain during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Arjen Robben of the Netherlands shoots and scores his second goal, the teams fifth, as goalkeeper Iker Casillas of Spain looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Andres Iniesta of Spain looks on after a goal by the Netherlands in the second half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Stefan de Vrij of the Netherlands celebrate the third goal with his team-mates during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Arjen Robben of the Netherlands and his team-mates celebrate his goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Stefan de Vrij of the Netherlands deflects the ball in for the teams third goal as Iker Casillas of Spain and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands collide in the air during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Iker Casillas of Spain and Robin van Persie of the Netherlands collide in the air as the ball carries to Stefan de Vrij of the Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. De Vrij scored his teams third goal as a result. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands runs toward the bench to celebrate his first goal during 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Referee Nicola Rizzoli speaks to Bruno Martins Indi of the Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Xabi Alonso of Spain shoots and scores a goal on a penalty kick against goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen of the Netherlands in the first half during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Robin van Persie of the Netherlands celebrates with teammates on the sideline after scoring his teams first goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Spain 1 Netherlands 5: Dutch maestros Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben inspired Holland to a stunning, unthinkable 5-1 win over defending champions Spain in a thrilling encounter that will go down in World Cup history.

The Dutch avenged their defeat by the same opponents in the 2010 final in outrageous style, with four unanswered goals in an irresistible second half display in Salvador.

Van Persie and Robben scored two apiece, with each man's first a minor classic in its own right. Defender Stefan de Vrij scored his side's third.

Vincent Del Bosque's side, who also lost their opener against Switzerland four years ago, had actually taken the lead through Xabi Alonso's disputed penalty, a lead they held until Van Persie's instinctive flying header levelled matters just before the break.

After that, Holland were rampant, laying a big marker down for the remainder of the tournament and raising the prospect of a Brazil-Spain second-round clash.

Holland should have taken the lead after just eight minutes, but Wesley Sneijder botched a wonderful opening.

Robben produced the pass that sent Sneijder bearing in on goal but he snatched at his lofted shot and allowed Iker Casillas to thrust his right glove up and make the save.

Spain rallied quickly from that scare and soon began to stamp themselves on the game.

By 20 minutes the Dutch were being dictated to by Xavi, Iniesta, David Silva and Xabi Alonso, with Ron Vlaar producing at least two desperate blocks.

The controversial penalty followed in the 26th minute, starting with Xavi's beautifully weighted pass for Costa.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - JUNE 16:  Germany fans celebrate during a public viewing at Heiligengeistfeld watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup match between Germany and Portugal on June 16, 2014 in Hamburg, Germany.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)
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He surged into the area and took two touches before turning De Vrij, who appeared in real time to trip him.

By the time Xabi Alonso had buried the spot-kick, replays showed Costa apparently initiating contact.

Holland responded positively but needed Jasper Cillessen to paw clear Silva's instinctive lob after a glorious pass from Iniesta in the 43rd minute.

That paved the way for Van Persie's leveller, the Manchester United man reading the space perfectly as he leapt to head Daley Blind's hanging cross high over the helpless Casillas.

The reation was rampant, not least from the high-fiving Louis van Gaal on the touchline.

The celebrations were even better eight minutes into the second half, when a piece of Robben magic gave them the lead.

Van Persie's chip picked out his team-mate, but he had plenty still to do as he controlled the ball brilliantly with the outside of his boot before turning Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos, converting with a slight deflection off the latter.

Things might have unravelled completely for the holders had the referee spotted Costa's apparent headbutt on Bruno Martins Indi, but the incident went unseen.

There was no holding Holland back, though, Van Persie cracking a volley against the crossbar on the hour before De Vrij made it 3-1 from Sneijder's curling free-kick.

Casillas came to claim but failed, with De Vrij on hand to bundle home at the far post.

The pace only increased from there, Silva's close-range finish chalked off for offside before Holland extended their lead to three in the 72nd minute.

Casillas was wholly culpable this time, turning a harmless back pass into one dreadful touch and an open goal for the alert Van Persie.

Robben completed Spain's misery with 10 minutes left, collecting Sneijder's pass and then reducing Casillas and his defenders to a floundering mess as he made room for an emphatic finish.

Holland might have scored two more had they been more clinical, and Spain's Fernando Torres made a woeful blunder from close range, but their statement was already well made.

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