It was supposed to be one of the best matches of the 2014 World Cup group stage, but the Netherlands had other ideas as they picked apart Spain's defense and hammered the defending champions, 5-1. Robin van Persie scored twice, and Arjen Robben added two goals of his own as the Oranje absolutely crushed Spain.
The game's first great chance happened in the eighth minute and belonged to the Dutch, when Wesley Sneijder broke free behind Spain's back line. Robben's pass set up the break, but despite racing into the box ahead of the defense, Sneijder's effort wasn't great, and Iker Casillas made a good save to deny him.
Spain vs. Netherlands
Watch Robin van Persie's crazy header
As great as the header is, the pass wasn't bad either. Daley Blind, take a bow.
Spain vs. Netherlands
Diego Costa, who was showered with boos from Brazilian fans in the crowd every time he touched the ball, nearly created a chance in the 13th minute after a turnover by Jonathan de Guzmán in the Dutch defensive third. Ron Vlaar made an excellent recovery, though, preventing Costa from getting a shot off, and saving de Guzmán's figurative bacon.
Costa was back in the 26th minute. This time, Stefan de Vrij was unable to stop the striker, and Spain was awarded a penalty. After breaking in behind de Vrij, Costa made a hard cut back inside, and was tripped up by the defender who's trailing foot on the tackle attempt took out Costa's foot. Xabi Alonso stepped and put his shot past Jasper Cillessen, giving Spain a 1-0 lead.
David Silva had a wonderful chance to double Spain's lead in the 43rd minute, but his chip attempt was touched away by Cillessen. Andrés Iniesta gets the credit for the pinpoint pass that allowed Silva to break free into the Dutch box, but the keeper was able to get his fingers on the shot and deflect it wide.
Two minutes later, the Dutch struck when Robin van Persie executed a sensational volley header that left Casillas frozen as the ball sailed over his head and into the goal. As good as RVP's run and finish was -- and it was really good -- the long curling pass from Daley Blind was perfect, as well, giving van Persie the time he needed to get behind Spain's back line and make a play on the ball.
Early in the second half, Robben put the Dutch ahead 2-1 thanks to some wonderful footwork in the Spanish box. He showed a tremendous touch, bringing down the looping cross from Blind, and managing to immediately control the ball and cut back as Gerard Piqué's momentum carried him past. Robben fired his shot to the right of the sliding Casillas, and the Netherlands were ahead.
Instead of a response, Spain continued to struggle, and in the 64th minute, the Dutch expanded their lead.
Sneijder sent a free kick from the left wing across the face of goal, and Casillas failed to deal with it properly as van Persie collided with the goalkeeper. In the confusion, de Vrij was able to sneak it at the far post and apparently head the ball down off his own foot, and over the line, giving the Netherlands a 3-1 lead.
Needless to say, the rout was on.
In the 73rd minute, Casillas made a horrible mistake with his first touch, allowing the ball to bounce right to van Persie at the top of the box. The goalkeeper's desperate sliding tackle was too late, as RVP held his balance long enough to toe-poke the ball into the empty net: 4-1, Netherlands.
Spain's comical defending continued in the 81st minute when they simply couldn't stop Robben as he danced around inside the box, before firing the ball into the once again empty net to make it 5-1.
Spain: Casillas, Alba, Ramos, Piqué, Azpilicueta, Alonso (Pedro 62'), Busquets, Xavi, David Silva (Fàbregas 78'), Diego Costa (Torres 62'), Iniesta
Goals: Alonso (27')
Netherlands: Cillessen, Martins Indi, Vlaar, De Vrij (Veltman 77'), Blind, Janmaat, De Jong, De Guzmán (Wijnaldum 62'), Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie (Lens 79')
Goals: Van Persie (44', 73'), Robben (53', 81'), De Vrij (64')