Photo: Spanish National team
The Netherlands routed Spain 5-1 Friday in both teams’ first match of the 2014 World Cup, as the Dutch avenged their loss to La Roja in the 2010 final.
The already difficult challenge of defending the World Cup title has now become substantially more difficult for Spain, which suffered the worst-ever opening-match loss of any reigning champion in the history of the competition.
Friday’s contest in the northeastern city of Salvador also saw Spain concede three more goals than they gave up during the entirety of their victorious run four years ago in South Africa.
The Spanish scored first, with Xabi Alonso converting a penalty in the 27th minute, but Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen prevented a second tally that might have allowed La Roja to take command of the match.
Meanwhile, the Orange attack intensified and defensive miscues allowed Robin van Persie to get the equalizer just minutes before the break.
The first of what would be two goals by the Manchester United striker was just a taste of the onslaught Spain would face in the second half.
Arjen Robben exploited another set of unaccustomed defensive errors to give the Netherlands the lead in the 54th minute.
The stunned Spanish squad began to unravel.
De Vrij made it 3-1 for the Dutch in the 65th minute, while Van Persie scored his second goal seven minutes later.
Robben got another in the 80th minute in a game where he and Van Persie became the first Dutch internationals to score in three different World Cup tournaments.
Spain also lost its first match in the 2010 tourney, but the margin of Friday’s defeat means La Roja can’t afford any mistakes in its games against the other two teams in Group B, Chile and Australia, who face each other Friday night in Cuiaba.