In a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final, the Netherlands crushed Spain 5-1 thanks to inspirational performances from Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie. Spain’s early advantage gained by a controversially called penalty when Diego Costa was fouled in the area was nullified by an incredible Van Persie headed goal right before halftime. The goal by Van Persie immediately changed the tempo of the match with the Dutch pressing higher up the pitch in first half stoppage time.
Iker Casillas was not long ago considered the best goalkeeper in the world, but tonight’s second half exposed why Jose Mourinho began the process of discarding him at Real Madrid two seasons ago. The Dutch were no doubt brilliant in the second half but were aided by a lack of composure from Spain which was particularly shocking given that the Spanish have won the last three major tournaments on the trot.
The four goal second half haul for the Netherlands was a sight to see as the Spanish defense was cut open time and again in a manner we have not seen in a decade. Robben and Van Persie both ended the match with two goals while Stefan de Vrij recorded the other Dutch goal. The Netherlands had an opportunity to score a sixth goal on multiple occasions late on cutting through the Spanish defense with ease but were unable to further embarrass the Champions.
If this match represents the end of Spain’s incredible run of success, arguably the greatest team in the history of international football went down in a way nobody expected. Often times in sports the greatest team’s runs of success end in the most dramatic ways, and this loss by the Spanish would be no exception to that rule if in fact this match heralds the end of an era.
For the Dutch Louis Van Gaal has built a side that is confident, well-organized and able to counter-attack with efficiency. Before we get too carried away though, we must remember the Euro 2008 tournament where the Dutch tore apart both 2006 World Cup finalists in the Group Stage before wilting in the quarterfinals.