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The highly anticipated rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and The Netherlands did not go as scripted. Unlike the extremely close match played four years ago, today’s game turned into an embarrassment for Spain. The Netherlands scored five goals within the span of 36 minutes to defeat the defending champions 5-1.
After the opening few minutes, it was clear that the fans at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil would be in for a treat. Both teams came out with something to prove - the Dutch wanted revenge for their narrow defeat four years ago, and Spain wanted to show the world it is still their trophy to lose.
Spain opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Diego Costa drew a questionable penalty when he was taken down by Stefan de Vrij. Xabi Alonso confidently stepped to the spot and placed the ball in the bottom right corner of the net.
That would be as good as it got for Spain as The Netherlands dominated from that point on. Arjen Robben, who squandered The Netherland’s best two scoring opportunities in the 1-0 loss to Spain in 2010, something that still haunts him according to the New York Daily News.
It would be Robin van Persie who scored the equalizer in the 44th minute with what is easily the best goal of the tournament thus far. The Manchester United forward looked like a circus seal as he flew through the air to head in a cross from Daley Blind. Spanish goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, was caught out of position and van Persie made him pay by placing the ball in the top right corner.
Robben was rewarded for his fine play in the 53rd minute when he tiptoed his way around two defenders and then beat Casillas to put the Dutch up 2-1.
Van Persie nearly scored his second in the 60th minute when his laser of a shot hit the crossbar. However, The Netherlands stayed aggressive, scoring again in the 64th minute off a set piece to give them a commanding 3-1 lead over the defending champions. Stefan de Vrij found himself in the right place to tap in the cross.
After going up by two, The Netherlands appeared to be toying with a demoralized Spanish team. Van Persie got his second goal of the game in the 72nd minute, and Robben scored his second in 80th to put the icing on the cake. Dutch manager Louis van Gaal will be taking over as Manchester United boss next season; he was adamant in saying that his upcoming job would not be a distraction during the World Cup, according to the Daily Mail. This Dutch performance proved van Gaal to be right, as The Netherlands now have to be considered a serious contender to make a deep run in the tournament.
Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque may have to consider starting David de Gea of Manchester United at goalkeeper. Casillas had a very poor performance for Spain, being caught out of position on several occasions. It will not be an easy decision to make as Casillas is currently the captain of Spain and was between the posts when Spain won their last three major tournaments.