By DAN KARELL
Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, and the Netherlands won’t be stopped, not even by the defending world champions.
The Netherlands shocked the world on Friday by thrashing Spain, 5-1, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. Robben and Van Persie each scored twice while left wing back Daley Blind assisted on Holland’s first two goals to come back from a one-goal deficit.
The four-goal deficit meant that this was the worst defeat in World Cup history to a defending champion.
Spain began the match with their trademark possession game, controlling the tempo and pushing the Netherlands and their three-man back line deep into their own half. La Furia Roja even took a 27th minute lead when Diego Costa went down in the box, with teammate Xabi Alonso finishing cooly past Netherlands goalkeeper Jesper Cillessen.
The Netherlands however, were never out of the game.
In the 43rd minute, just seconds after Cillessen denied David Silva from giving Spain a two-goal advantage, the Netherlands earned their reward for a hard-fought half.
Blind sent a long-ball from the left side towards the top of the box. Van Persie, as he’s done many times, followed the flight of the pass perfectly and met it with a diving header from 15-yards out, looping the ball into Iker Casillas’ goal to tie the match in dramatic fashion.
Following the half time break, the Netherlands took the match by the scruff of the neck and never let go. The Dutch preferred to use long-balls to bypass the Spanish midfield and in the 53rd minute, Blind was able to connect with Robben on another terrific goal.
Blind floated a ball for Robben to run onto, with the Dutch forward beating Sergio Ramos to the pass. Robben then dribbled around Ramos and another Spanish defender before blasting home to give the Netherlands a 2-1 lead.
From there, Holland began to pour it on. In the 63rd minute, Casillas wasn’t able to get a hand on a corner kick and it was eventually bundled home by Stefan de Vrij, making up for his earlier error in allowing the penalty kick to Spain. Nine minutes later, Casillas had another howler, failing to control a pass back to him and giving Van Persie a chance to toe-poke home.
With the Dutch fans and Brazilians in attendance singing out the “ole” chant when the Netherlands were in possession, Robben latched onto a pass on the counter attack, sped past Ramos at midfield and sprinted into the box, evading Casillas and Ramos again before firing home to put the finishing touches on the rout.