|Paced by their talismen Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, Netherlands notched a stunning 5-1 victory against Spain in the Group B opener here on Friday in what was a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa. (Photo: Xinhua)
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SALVADOR, Brazil, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Paced by their talismen Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, Netherlands notched a stunning 5-1 victory against Spain in the Group B opener here on Friday in what was a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.
Xabi Alonso's penalty kick helped Spain to break the deadlock in the 27th minute after Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij brought down Spain center Diego Costa, who was booed whenever touching the ball as he chose to represent Spain instead of Brazil.
The defending champions could have doubled the lead in the 42nd minute but David Silva's close-range chip shot failed to curl past Cillessen. The Spaniards were soon punished for wasting the good opportunity. Dutch skipper van Persie levelled the score two minutes later as his flying header went past Spanish captain and keeper Iker Casillas following a long curling cross from the middle of the pitch.
The Netherlands also squandered a good chance eight minutes into the match when Robben blocked down a loose ball and fed a slide-rule pass to an unguarded Wesley Sneijder. However, Seijder's powerful right foot effort was rejected by the keeper.
After the two side tied at 1-1 in the first half, the match resumed in heavy rain. This time again the Dutchmen managed to find early opportunies. In the 53rd minute Robben met a long pass in the area. He flicked past Gerard Pique and curled in with his left foot.
With one goal in hand, the Netherlands tuned comfortably up to the counter-attacking ryhthm and controlled the rest of the match. Van Persie's bullet-like right-foot lash hit the woodwork in the 61st minutes. But the Dutch did not need to wait long for their next goal.
Defender Vrij managed to make up for the mistake he made in the first half as he touched in Sneijder's in-swing freekick at the far post to double the lead to 3-1.
Van Persie dispossessed the ball from Casillas and tapped in the open gate in the 72nd minute while Robben surged another solo run in the 80th minute as he flicked Ramos and rounded Casillas before making it 5-1.
The Netherlands still had several chances in the final minutes but the 5-1 scoring-line is good enough for the Dutch to taste the sweet revenge of the final loss in South Africa four years ago, when Spain won 1-0 after extra time to lift the trophy for the first time in history.