Ruthless Dutch rip shell-shocked Spain to shreds
By Neil Maidment
SALVADOR Brazil (Reuters) - A rampant Netherlands team inflicted a heaviest World Cup defeat on holders Spain in over 60 years with a dazzling 5-1 demolition on Friday that sent shockwaves through the tournament.
The Dutch were nothing but brutal in a tetchy 1-0 final defeat by the Spaniards four years ago, but they set out to disrupt the champions' possession game and blew them away with two goals each from Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
Only once before had Spain conceded five times in a World Cup game, in a 6-1 loss to hosts Brazil in 1950. The mauling was also the worst ever start for defending world champions.
"Spain were always going to come at us and we catch them on the counter. My players did it perfectly. It's far better than we ever expected," Dutch coach Louis van Gaal told reporters.
Dutch revenge looked unlikely when Spain, also 2008 and 2012 European champions, went ahead in the Group B clash with a 27th- minute Xabi Alonso penalty after Diego Costa was brought down.
With halftime approaching, David Silva spurned a chance to double Spain's lead with a cheeky chip that was pushed wide - a miss compounded by a spectacular Dutch equalizer seconds later.
Looking for quick balls over the top, captain Van Persie got between defenders Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba in the 44th minute to meet a searching Daley Blind cross with a powerful diving header that left goalkeeper Iker Casillas rooted to the spot.
A likely standout goal of the tournament, even Van Persie struggled to assume a modest demeanor after the game. Continued...