Story by Robin Popley
Holland last night truly avenged their defeat in the 2010 World Cup Final by completing a true demolition of Spain’s back line in their Group B opener, manifested mainly by Robin and Robben – aka Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. However, their goals, either side of Stefan de Vrij’s header in the 64th minute – seemed an impossible feat five minutes before half time.
The night had started so well for the current World champions who had led after a 27th minute penalty dispatched by Xabi Alonso. His penalty is the second of the tournament already but unlike the dubious penalty awarded to Brazil the night before, this was much more clear cut, after an infringement on Athletico Madrid’s current and Chelsea’s soon to be main striker, Diego Costa. They should have doubled that leading margin after Manchester City’s David Silva was through on goal but instead of trying to use power or place his shot, chipped the ball straight into the gracious arms of Dutch goalkeeper, Jasper Cillessen. This was the turning point in the match as just before half time, a superb cross from Daley Blind was met superbly by (my Christian forename namesake) Robin Van Persie who looped his header over the onlooking Iker Casillas. Truly majestic.
This was the turning point in the match as just eight minutes into the second half, former Chelsea attacker Arjen Robben – now plying his trade at Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich, fired the ball home past Casillas via a slight deflection off the latter’s Real Madrid team-mate, Sergio Ramos. As aforementioned, de Vrij’s headed home a third, despite more substantiated claims for a push on the goalkeeper than we had witnessed the previous evening when Croatia had their ‘equaliser’ ruled out for a similar incident. Following this though, Casillas was not his usual self, as an error of judgment by Spain’s legendary shotstopper led to Robin Van Persie nicking the ball away from him and slipping the ball into an empty net.
If there was an air of comedy about Holland’s fourth, there was nothing but sheer genius about their fifth and final goal of the evening as Arjen Robben ran almost the length of the field and once in receipt of the ball, went round Casillas before slamming the ball past the usually commanding defensive pairing of Pique and Ramos. The Holland of old were back and it was self evident how much this revenge tasted sweet.
Manchester United fans might be right to be excited to see Van Gaal as their new man in charge at Old Trafford following this showing.
Earlier in the day, Mexico ran out 1-0 winners of a Cameroon team, which boasts former European cup winners like Samuel Eto’o. Dos Santos was hard done by the officials when he had an excellent volleyed effort ruled out for offside despite replays suggesting otherwise. Nevertheless, it was to be the Mexicans day, as Peralta scored a well executed driven shot past Itandje in the 61st minute.
In the day’s late kick off, Chile ran out comprehensive 3-1 winners over Australia. Chile were soon 1-0 after a weaving run was finished off by Barcelona striker, Sanchez, and almost immediately after the restart it was 2-0, following a well struck effort by Valdivia in the 14th minute. Ex-Everton attacker Tim Cahill pulled one back in the 35th minute and felt he had grabbed an equaliser, but this was ruled out for an offside decision previous in the play. Chile rounded off the victory late in the day with a sweetly struck shot outside of the area by Wigan Athletic’s own, Jean Beausejour. The Chilean crowd erupted into jubilation, whilst the Australian’s looked disconsolate.
The World Cup is now well and truly underway.