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  • Spain 1-5 Netherlands, World Cup Group B

Van Gaal masterminds Dutch destruction of Spain

ESPN staff
June 13, 2014
High five: Louis van Gaal celebrates with Robin van Persie © AP
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Netherlands rocked Spain in Salvador with a thumping comeback win, thrashing the World Cup holders 5-1.

The Dutch 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 end of an era? Iker Casillas was at fault for Robin van Persie's second © Getty Images
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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.

Netherlands 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.

There was no holding Netherlands back, though, as Van Persie cracked 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 flapped, 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 Netherlands 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.

Netherlands 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.

Robin van Persie equalised with an astonishing header © Getty Images
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