SAO PAULO (AP) — When no one expected it, the Dutch turned on the style with a barrage of spectacular World Cup goals and a 5-1 victory on Friday that totally humiliated defending champion Spain.
Rain and clouds may have shrouded Salvador, but the orange shirts of the Dutch fans brightened up the Arena Fonte Nova as they celebrated one of the Netherlands’ most famous World Cup victories in a rematch of the 2010 final.
Even more so than Brazil’s opening win on Thursday, or Mexico’s rain-soaked 1-0 win over Cameroon earlier Friday, the Dutch put the World Cup on a festive footing.
Fellow veterans Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben produced two superb each and showed the host nation why the Dutch have often been called the Brazilians of Europe.
“It was inexplicable,” said Van Persie, the leader of a team which has come to Brazil carrying few expectations from a nation that has all too often been spoilt for sparkling football. The veterans were thought too old, the rookies too inexperienced.
Players openly said that just avoiding defeat against Spain would be enough, never mind beautiful play. However, the game yet again lived up to its reputation for unpredictability.
“This is why you play football,” the Netherlands’ beaming coach Louis van Gaal said after his disputed move to a 5-3-2 lineup proved a masterstroke.
Spain was always going to try to dominate possession, as in the 2010 World Cup final, but this time the Dutch knew how to hit back.
The defending champion started Diego Costa but the striker was as ineffectual as the rest of the aging team, highlighted by a massive blunder by Iker Casillas that led to Van Persie’s second goal, a symbol of Spain’s fate on an infamous Friday 13th.
“A debacle. We did everything wrong,” said Xavi, at 34 a shadow of his former self in the second half of Friday’s game.
Later Friday, Chile drew level on points with the Netherlands in Group B after beating Australia in a tighter game than the 3-1 scoreline suggests.
The match looked like it might turn into the second rout of the day when Alexis Sanchez poked home from close range in the 12th minute, before setting up Jorge Valdivia to score just two minutes later.
However, Australia pulled a goal back through Tim Cahill in the 35th and kept it close until Jean Beausejour sealed the points for Chile in injury time.
Best news of all? The goals are flying in — with 15 in just four games for an average of 3.75.
The Dutch romp was not the only surprise on the second day of the World Cup. When people around the world expected a sun-soaked tournament, torrential rain dominated Natal and Mexico’s victory over Cameroon, courtesy of a goal from Oribe Peralta that moved the Central Americans level with Brazil in Group A.
Casillas was not the only football star to suffer ignominy on Friday.
Franz Beckenbauer, who won the World Cup both as a player and coach, was banned from football for 90 days by FIFA for not cooperating with a fraud investigation into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids. Beckenbauer was the first person to be punished as a result of the investigations.
On the pitch, the day was almost as black for the ashen-faced Vicente Del Bosque, who only four years ago coached Spain to its first World Cup win before following it up with the 2012 European championship title.
Instead it was Spain’s worst World Cup loss since losing 6-1 to Brazil when the tournament was last held here, 64 years ago.
“All of us have to find a way to solve it,” Del Bosque said.
One fact to bear in mind, though: Spain also lost its opening game four years ago before lifting the cup.
On Saturday, the showcase game will pitch England against Italy, while Uruguay faces Costa Rica in the other Group D match.
Group C kicks off with Colombia against Greece.
World Cup Capsules
SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — The Netherlands thrashed Spain 5-1 Friday in the World Cup’s first shocker, toying with an aging team that has dominated global football for the past six years and avenging a loss in the 2010 final.
Although Spain could still advance out of the group stage, the game may have signaled the end of the run by a generation of Spanish stars whose quick passing, “tiki-taka” style delighted the world and helped them win the last three major tournaments.
Dutch strikers Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice, including Van Persie’s diving header from an audacious 40-yard pass. The ball looped over hapless Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas as Van Persie slid on his stomach on the wet grass before running to the sidelines with his fists clenched to celebrate what is sure to be one of the goals of the tournament.
Defender Stefan de Vrij also scored — his first international goal — in a dominating second half that had the orange-clad Dutch fans in Arena Fonte Nova on their feet the whole time.
It was the worst loss for Spain in the game’s showcase tournament since a 6-1 defeat to Brazil in 1950.
CHILE 3, AUSTRALIA 1
CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — Alexis Sanchez produced a dynamic performance to lead Chile to a 3-1 win over Australia in the World Cup on Friday, scoring one goal and setting up another for one of the dangerous outsiders in the tournament.
Chile threatened to run away with the game in muggy Cuiaba when Sanchez poked home from close range in the 12th minute, before setting up Jorge Valdivia barely a minute later for the playmaker to finish from the edge of the area.
But Australia recovered well, responding with a trademark headed goal by star forward Tim Cahill in the 35th and giving the Chileans a string of scares in the second half. However, Jean Beausejour put the game away for Chile in injury time to help the South Americans level on three points in Group B with the Netherlands, which thrashed Spain 5-1 earlier Friday.
MEXICO 1, CAMEROON 0
NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Mexico overcame the torrential rain and two disallowed goals to beat Cameroon 1-0 on Friday, picking up the three points it needed to have any chance of advancing from a tough group at the World Cup.
Oribe Peralta scored in the 61st minute, giving Mexico its first win over win over an African team at the World Cup and justifying coach Miguel Herrera’s decision to start him ahead of striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, arguably the country’s best known player.
Giovanni Dos Santos twice put the ball in the net in the first half hour, only to have both efforts called back. He was ruled offside in the 11th minute and his header from a corner in the 29th was denied when referee Wilmar Roldan apparently called a foul in front of Itandje.
“We could have scored more, but unfortunately we’re not used to these conditions,” Herrera said. “Frankly, the refereeing took away two clear goals, but at the end of the day you’ve got to work for it, and we get to the next match with three points and very high spirits.”
Tournament host and favorite Brazil leads the group after a 3-1 win over Croatia in the opening game.