Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dutch Blow the Champions Away; Spain Suffer a Humiliating Start to Title Defence

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Dutch Blow the Champions Away; Spain Suffer a Humiliating Start to Title Defence

Article excerpt

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.

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. …

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