SALVADOR, Brazil: Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice as the Netherlands avenged their 2010 World Cup final defeat by routing holders Spain 5-1 yesterday in a record-breaking humiliation.
As well as it being the worst ever mauling inflicted at a World Cup on the reigning champions, it was the worst defeat suffered by Spain in more than half a century, coming 51 years after a 6-2 defeat to Scotland in 1963.
Manchester United striker van Persie produced a stunning first-half header and slotted home the Netherlands’ fourth.
Not to be outdone, Bayern Munich star Robben scored two second-half goals with Stefan De Vrij compounding the misery for Vicente del Bosque’s world and European champions.
Veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso gave the Spanish a first-half lead when he drilled home a penalty after a foul on Diego Costa.
But Van Persie’s diving header 90 seconds from the break put the Dutch level before goals by Robben, centre-back de Vrij and Persie again completed the rout.
The Netherlands triumvirate of Robben, Van Persie and Wesley Sneijder caused the Spanish defence all manner of problems, but it was Daley Blind’s superb long passes which created their two opening goals.
The best chance of the opening exchanges fell to the Netherlands when a Robben pass put Sneijder in behind the defence, but Ilker Casillas blocked the Galatasaray star’s shot.
Van Persie levelled on 44 minutes when Blind’s pin-point pass from the left wing found the Manchester United star in space to loop his header over the stranded Casillas.
The Netherlands took control soon after the break when Ajax’s Blind again provided a superb pass to Robben in the area.
The winger got the better of both Spain centre-backs Gerald Pique and Sergio Ramos to fire the Oranje into a 2-1 lead on 53 minutes.
Van Persie then rattled the crossbar with an hour gone before De Vrij grabbed the third on 64 minutes.
Van Persie claimed his second and the Netherlands’ fourth when he beat Casillas to a loose ball and, aided by a helpful bounce.
Robben, who could have finished with a hat-trick, netted his second on 80 minutes by again dancing around Spanish defenders to claim his team’s fifth goal of a stunning night.AFP
Mexico win despite refereeing blunders
NATAL, Brazil: Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 at a rain-drenched Natal yesterday in a World Cup Group A match scarred by more refereeing blunders.
Oribe Peralta grabbed the only goal after 61 minutes but Mexico will consider themselves unlucky not to have been more comfortable winners after Giovani Dos Santos had two goals ruled out for dubious offside decisions in the first half.
On both occasions, it was former Tottenham striker Giovani Dos Santos who was the victim.
In the 11th minute, the Villarreal player found the target with a sweet, stabbed volley from a cross by Porto’s Hector Herrara but his effort was ruled out by Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan On the 30-minute mark, a Dos Santos header from a corner by Miguel Layun was also not allowed to stand.
In between, Cameroon skipper Samuel Eto’o had a goal chalked off for offside although this time the referee made the right decision.
The blunders came just a day after Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura controversially awarded a penalty which set Brazil on their way to a 3-1 win over Croatia.
Eto’o had Cameroon’s best chance of the first half after 21 minutes but narrowly went wide of the post.
Early in the second period, Mexico had a golden opportunity when Peralta was clean through on goal, but he fired the ball straight at Charles Itandje in the Cameroon goal.
Peralta deservedly put Mexico in front just after the hour mark. Dos Santos’s shot was parried into his path and the Club Santos Laguna striker slotted in from close range.
Cameroon’s Benjamin Moukandjo had a chance to rescue a point in injury time but his header was well-saved by Guillermo Ochoa.
Mexico next face Brazil in Fortaleza on Tuesday with Cameroon taking on Croatia the following day.
The possibility of yet another refereeing blunder appeared to have crossed the mind of Mexico’s coach Miguel Herrera, who said afterwards: “I told the boys before the match to keep their focus on our gameplan, whatever happens.
“Human error exists. We have to learn to put up with whatever comes our way. We didn’t think about the referee when we went back to dressing room (at half-time).
Volker Finke, the German coach of a Cameroon side whose pre-World Cup was marred by a bitter row over bonuses, refused to use the “difficult” playing conditions as an excuse.
“The conditions weren’t an excuse,”said Finke, who admitted Cameroon, relatively late arrivals in Brazil, had found Mexico’s 5-3-2 system a tough nut to crack.AFP