World Cup Blog: Pain for Spain as Dutch fly in
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 June 2014
Spain 1 Holland 5
Total football put Tiki Taka firmly in its place on day two of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Defending champions Spain were humbled by Holland’s flying Dutchmen, as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben netted twice apiece in a royal rout.
And the inquisitions began immediately on social media as Messrs Lineker, Shearer, Henry and Ferdinand got stuck in during the BBC’s post-game analysis too.
End of an era? The kings are dead, long live the kings?
Spain had lost their first game in 2010, before going on to lift the trophy. And these two nations had met, of course, in the final in South Africa. Remember?
It was far from a classic: Holland had eight men booked and one sent off by English referee Howard Webb, before Andres Iniesta struck Spain’s winner with a penalty shoot-out looming.
It made headlines for the wrong reasons, but this rematch will surely go down as one of the most memorable matches in World Cup history.
For someone who has enjoyed Spanish and Dutch culture in equal measure down the years, it was hard to decide which team to ‘support’ in the build-up.
Family holidays in Benidorm in the early 1980s – I remember buying a 1982 World Cup pen as a souvenir – and subsequent trips to the Balearic islands, Barcelona for a stag weekend, preceded memorable visits to Amsterdam for football, art and historical value.
The land of Overmars and Bergkamp eventually won my vote and Spain’s pass masters, looking for a fourth tournament triumph in a row – after Euro 2008 and 2012 successes either side of their maiden World Cup crown – could have gone behind on eight minutes when Robben threated Wesley Snejder through.
But Iker Casillas, making his 30th appearance in World Cup and European Championship finals – and winning his 155th cap for Spain – stood tall to block in his short-sleeved shirt. It was downhill all the way after that for the keeper, though.
Spain’s heavily-booed Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa had half a look at the other end before Ron Vlaar - nicknamed Roncrete we were told in commentary - made a telling block while Nigel De Jong produced the first blatant body check of the night.
Costa went down in the box under the challenge of Stefan De Vrij soon after to win a penalty, but TV replays suggested he might have trod on the defender’s ankle himself.
Xabi Alonso swept home from the spot and it was Viva Espana.
Offside flags and more industrial challenges from the Dutch dictated the next passage of play, as eyelids became heavy on one particular couch, until Iniesta’s superb pass played in David Silva for a dinked attempt which was pushed behind.
From almost being 2-0 to the Spaniards, it was then level as an even better diagonal ball from Daley Blind found van Persie at full stretch to head over Casillas.
Flying Dutchman comments dominated Twitter during the half-time break, along with the image of the goalscorer exchanging a poorly executed high five with manager Louis van Gaal, his new boss at Manchester United next season.
And it was Oranje Boom again early in the second half as another incisive long ball from Blind picked out Robben to calmly fire the Dutch ahead.
Costa caused more controversy when leaning his head into the face of Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi, as Spain waited to take a corner, but the incident went unseen by the referee.
A linesman then failed to notice van Persie was marginally offside before smashing a right-footed half volley against the crossbar on the hour.
And van Persie’s challenge on Casillas, despite appearing to be a stronger version of Olic’s ‘foul’ on Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar 24 hours earlier, was also ignored as De Vrij headed the third Dutch goal soon after.
Van Persie then caught Casillas napping, before poking home number four, and Robben raced clear of Sergio Ramos before rifling a fifth into the Spanish net.
It was almost too much to take in, but this is what the World Cup is all about isn’t it?
Hup hup Holland!
*Dave Evans will be watching England’s opening game against Italy tonight. Follow @London24Sport on Twitter and read his blog on this website tomorrow.