Photo: Robin Van Persie heading home the equalizer for the Netherlands against Spain. Van Persie scored two goals as the Dutch ran out 5-1 winners after going behind to a dubious penalty.
In a grudge match that is a replay of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, Spain and the Netherlands played out an exciting game with some excellent football. However it was the Dutch who ran out 5-1 winners thanks to Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben's braces and a strike from Stefan De Vrij. It was a second half massacre which saw Louis van Gaal's team scoring four times.
Spain settled in their passing game very early with the Oranje seemingly content to allow them to have possession just in front of them. The Dutch was set-up to be strong defensively, playing long balls out to Arjen Robben and captain Robin van Persie.
The first chance of the game fell to Galatasaray's Wesley Sneijder in the 8th minute. He was played in by Robben into a one-on-one situation with Iker Casillas but the Real Madrid goalkeeper made a good block. It was after that save that Barcelona's Andres Iniesta and Man City's David Silva started to get a grip on the game.
Silva received an excellent pass from Xavi in the 20th minute which he controlled brilliantly and had a sighter at goal. He was closed down quickly by Ron Vlaar who prevented the 28 year old from getting a shot on target. Xabi Alonso then converted from the penalty spot on 27 minutes after Diego Costa was allegedly taken down by De Vrij to make it 1-0 to La Furia Roja.
The Dutch threatened on 32 minutes when Ajax's Daley Blind linked up well with Robben but his dangerous cross was just out of the reach of van Persie. Silva had a great opportunity to make it 2-0 after he was picked out by a sublime Iniesta pass but Jasper Cillessen got his hands up quickly to prevent the chip shot from passing him.
The Dutch then equalized via a stupendous header from van Persie. He was picked out by a cros from Blind just across the half line and the Man United striker made up a lot of ground before throwing himself at the ball, scoring with a looping header over a stranded Casillas. It was a super finish and it showed why he is one of the best strikers in world football and Holland's all time leading scorer.
The second half started like the first but it was the Oranje who took the lead on 53 minutes thanks to Robben's excellent technical ability. Blind played over a lofted cross which the Bayern man controlled expertly then got past Gerard Pique before his shot deflected off Sergio Ramos' leg into the back of the net.
Diego Costa should have seen a red card a minute later after a head-butt on young Bruno Martins Indi but luckily for him the referee never saw it. It could have been 3-1 on the hour mark but van Persie's right-footed shot canoned off the crossbar.
It was 3-1 four minutes later when Feyenoord's youngster Stefan De Vrij bundled home a Sneijder free kick at the back post. In the 68th minute Silva found the back of the net but it was ruled out for off side and it was a good decision. Four minutes later it was 4-1 thanks to a mistake by Casillas after a poor touch which was pounced upon by van Persie who passed the ball into the vacant goal.
Spain were shell-shocked and started to play with uncertainty and looked vulnerable to the pace of the Dutch on the break. Robben sealed the victory on 80 minutes following a fast break. His pace took him away from Ramos and getting the better of Pique and Casillas before he slotted the ball in the back of the net.
Robben almost had a hat-trick but was denied by Casillas brilliantly from a terrific volley in the 87th minute. Torres got a similar chance in stoppage but Blind timed his challenge to perfection to deny the Chelsea man.
The Dutch has made a big statement thrashing the defending champions in their opening game. They have a very young team but also a lot of quality and they are very courageous. The Spanish may see this as a bad day at the office and can remember that they lost their opening game in South Africa but came through to lift the world title.