Netherlands thrashes Spain 5-1 in World Cup opener

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — The Netherlands thrashed Spain
5-1 Friday, toying with the defending champions in the second half and
gaining a measure of revenge for its 2010 loss in the World Cup final.
Robin
van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice and defender Stefan de
Vrij grabbed his first international goal in a humiliating defeat for a
Spain team that has won its last three major tournaments.
It was the worst loss for Spain in the game’s showcase tournament since a 6-1 defeat to Brazil in 1950.

In
one game, Van Persie doubled his goal tally from the whole 2010 World
Cup.
The orange-clad Dutch fans at the Arena Fonte Nova gave him a
standing ovation when he was substituted.
The victory was
particularly sweet for Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal, who was
criticized for his decision to play five defenders against Spain. He
insisted the formation had attacking potential as well as nullifying
Spain’s fluent passing game.
It did. And then some.
At the end, Dutch fans were roaring "Ole" as their team passed the ball around and Spain chased
them.
It
all started so well for Spain, with Xabi Alonso converting a 27th
minute penalty. But it went downhill fast after Van Persie tied the game
with an unbelievable looping header shortly before half time. Daley
Blind launched a 40-yard pass from near midfield, and Van Persie timed
his leap perfectly to guide the ball gently over goalie Iker Casillas,
who helplessly watched it go into the net.
Spain, which won the
2010 final thanks to an Andres Iniesta extra-time goal, exerted most of
the pressure in the first half of the rematch, but had no answer once
the Dutch went ahead and continually hit them on the break.
The
final goal came after Robben weaved around Casillas — who was crawling
on the grass in desperation — and fired into the untended net.
Spain
coach Vicente Del Bosque sat stony faced on his bench at full time,
while Van Gaal walked onto the pitch to hug his players.
"This is a very delicate moment for us, and all of us have to find a way to solve it," Del
Bosque said.
Spain
lost its first match in 2010, and they still have a good chance to get
out of the group stage if they can defeat Chile and Australia.