#WorldCupAtHome: Revenge tastes sweet for five-star Oranje 

  • #WorldCupAtHome kicks off with Netherlands’ 5-1 defeat of Spain at Brazil 2014

  • Over six weeks, we'll be showing some of the greatest FIFA World Cup™ matches

  • Relive the Oranje’s stunning display against the reigning world champions

Beaten by Spain in the Final of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the Netherlands exacted sweet revenge when the two sides met again in their opening group match in Brazil four years later. It was a match that brought redemption for the Oranje’s Arjen Robben and some unforgettable goals, among them Robin Van Persie’s amazing diving header. In also marking the end of a golden era for La Roja, it was a match that has rightly gone down in World Cup history.

📝 Match facts

[[flag-esp-s]] Spain 1-5 Netherlands [[flag-ned-s]]

13 June 2014 | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador


Spain (Alonso, 27’ pen) | Netherlands (Van Persie 44’, 72’; Robben 53’, 80’; De Vrij 64’).


  • Spain: Casillas (c), Azpilicueta, Pique, Ramos, Jordi Alba, Xavi, Busquets, Alonso (Torres 62'), Silva (Fabregas 78'), Iniesta, Diego Costa (Pedro 62')

  • Netherlands: Cillessen, Vlaar, De Vrij (Veltman 77'), Martins Indi, Janmaat, Blind, De Guzman (Wijnaldum 62'), De Jong, Sneijder, Van Persie (c) (Lens 79'), Robben

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13:  Andres Iniesta of Spain (L) enters the pitch with player escorts prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Alex Grimm - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

🤓 The stakes

It was the first meeting between the sides since the South Africa 2010 Final, a game that was decided by Andres Iniesta’s extra-time strike. La Roja arrived in Brazil intent on continuing their history-making run, having won back-to-back UEFA EURO titles either side of their 2010 triumph.

However, just as Italy had done four years earlier and Germany would do in Russia four years later, Spain saw their world-title defence end with a group-phase exit. And it all began with this meeting against the Dutch, their confidence destroyed after conceding five goals for the first time since 1963.

⚔️ The match

There were there key factors in the Netherlands’ stunning win:

  1. Van Persie’s momentum-changing goal: Spain’s afternoon to forget actually began with them taking the lead through Xabi Alonso’s penalty, and David Silva almost doubled their advantage with a clever chip that Jasper Cillessen did well to claw away. But then Van Persie changed everything in virtually the very next move, flying through the air to meet Daley Blind’s cross and catch Iker Casillas off his line. From that point on it was all downhill for La Roja.

  2. The space behind the Spain defence: Netherlands coach Louis Van Gaal knew exactly what he wanted his side to do: dispense with patient possession football and hit long balls in behind Spain’s high defensive line. Nobody executed the plan better than Blind, whose pinpoint deliveries from the left were the source of his side’s first two goals. The counterattack that ended with Robben making it 5-1 also began with a long ball.

  3. Casillas is human after all: One of Spain’s heroes of the hour in the Final four years previously, when he thwarted the Dutch with some miraculous saves and twice denied Robben in one-on-one situations, San Iker was not at his best in Salvador. With his side trailing 2-1, he failed to deal with Wesley Sneijder’s in-swinging free-kick, allowing Stefan de Vrij to bundle in the Netherlands’ third at the far post. The keeper then miscontrolled a back-pass to allow the ever-alert Van Persie to poke in the fourth. And the fifth goal came when Robben’s pace and trickery left him and central defenders Gerard Pique and Sergio Ramos floundering.

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JUNE 13: Arjen Robben (L) and Wesley Sneijder of Netherlands celebrate as Iker Casillas of Spain looks dejected after the Netherlands second goal during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group B match between Spain and Netherlands at Arena Fonte Nova on June 13, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

🌟 The star

Van Persie drove the Spain defence to distraction, occupying the space between the midfield and defensive lines and making countless runs in behind the Roja rearguard. Not content with showing his power and quality, the striker also conjured up one of the most memorable moments of the whole tournament with that breathtaking flying header.

🗣️🎙️ What they said

“Incredible! This is a dream come true for the whole of the Netherlands.” Robin Van Persie

“We played a great game and were compact in defence and direct in attack. We pressed them the whole time and I don’t need to tell you how dangerous Van Persie, Robben and Sneijder can be on the ball.” Louis Van Gaal

“I feel bad. I’m upset, but I’m just going to take this defeat on the chin. We mustn’t lose heart. I just can’t explain why we conceded five goals. We’ve never been a defensive side but we’ve always handled that side of things really well.” Vicente del Bosque

🔜 What happened next?

Boosted by their big win, the Netherlands embarked on a run to the semi-finals, where it took a stubborn Argentina side and a penalty shoot-out to deny them a second consecutive Final appearance. Van Gaal’s men nevertheless ended their Brazilian adventure on a high, comfortably defeating the despondent tournament hosts in the play-off for third place.

Spain failed to recover from their mauling and crashed out of the tournament in their very next match, a 2-0 defeat to Chile at the Maracana.