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Spain concede five to rampant Holland

World Cup Group B Spain 1-5 Holland Alonso 27 pen Van Persie 43, 73, Robben 52, 79, De Vrij 64 Spain took the lead but Holland fought back to level before the break and then take the World Champions apart in the second half to record a stunning 5-1 victory.

Spain lost the opening game of the 2010 World Cup to Switzerland 1-0, after dominating for long periods, but then went on to win the tournament.

This loss however is of a different magnitude as they totally collapsed in the second half in a manner which will be of huge cocnern to boss Vincente del Bosque.

The game had begun with some leftovers form their final meeting four years ago with the Dutch again not afraid to leave a foot-in or bring their man down if a move looked threatening.

And just before the half-hour mark Spain finally took the lead their possession warranted. Diego Costa, roundly booed every time he got the ball for choosing to represent Spain rather than Brazil, was brought down inside the penalty area by the trailing leg of Stefan de Vrij. Alonso easily converted the penalty and the Spaniards looked on course for a routine win.

The Dutch for their part must have looked back to an early chance for Wesley Sneijder who, clean through on goal, fired straight at keeper Iker Casillas. But then just before the break Robin van Persie took advantage of some woeful central defending to fling himself at Daley Blind through ball and loop a header over the keeper.

Yet moments before David Villa had only the keeper to beat at the other end but could only win a corner. In the course of a couple of minutes Spain had gone from potentially being 2-0 ahead to being pegged back level at the interval.

On such small margins are games decided as the second half was to prove with Arjen Robben running the Spanish back four ragged as Holland turned on the style.

The Bayern Munich winger put the Dutch in front collecting a Blind cross, turning two defenders before firing home. Van Persie almost got his second but hit the cross bar with a fierce shot.

But the European team were not to be denied and made it three when Srtefan de Vrij bundled home a Sneijder free kick at the far post with Casillas claiming he had been impeded.

With Spain struggling to get their close passing game together and uncharacteristically giving the ball away, their opponents took full advantage. If Casillas had felt a sense of injustice about the third goal he could have no complaint about number four which was a result of his own horrendous error.

Failing to control a back pass, van Persie took full advantage to poke the ball into an unguarded goal. Spain looked ragged now and Holland looked like they could score every time they broke into the Spaniards half.

Number five duly arrived when Robben outpaced Sergio Ramos before biding his time waiting for Casillas to commit himself, then rounding the keeper and hitting the ball high into the net.

With Spain desperately waiting to hear the final whistle there was one final humiliation waiting for them. On the stroke of full time it seemed substitute Fernando Torres must score a consolation goal as the ball broke invitingly for the Chelsea player just a couple of yards from goal, but somehow the out sorts striker hesitated and the Dutch defence hacked the ball clear.

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Ian Ferris
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Ian Ferris

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