Salvador, Brazil (4E Sports) – Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie scored two goals apiece to lead Netherlands to a 5-1 drubbing of defending champion Spain in their Group B opening clash Friday at Itaipava Arena.
Van Persie scored in the 44th and 72nd minute, Robben scored in the 53rd and 80th minute while Stefan de Vrij added a tap-in goal for Netherlands.
With the win, the Netherlands avenged its 1-0 loss to Spain in the World Cup finals four years ago in South Africa.
Xabi Alonso put Spain ahead with a penalty in the 27th minute but the Netherlands hit back in stunning fashion.
Van Persie tied the game with a fabulous header on the stroke of half-time, before Robben gave Louis van Gaal’s side the lead eight minutes after the interval.
De Vrij nodded home a third in the 64th minute before Van Persie and Robben scored again to complete a remarkable rout in Group B’s opening fixture and cast further doubt over Spain’s chances of winning their fourth straight major tournament.
Meanwhile, striker Oribe Peralta scored the lone goal in the second half to carry Mexico to a thrilling 1-0 win over Cameroon in their Friday’s Group A opener at Estadio das Dunas.
Peralta’s close-range goal in the 61st minute saved El Tri after Giovani Dos Santos had two first-half goals disallowed.
Peralta, who scored 10 goals in Mexico’s qualification campaign, secured his first at a World Cup and it was enough for Miguel Herrera’s side to keep pace with Brazil at the top of the group.
Dos Santos thought he had given Mexico the lead in the 11th minute when he delivered a cross into the back of the net but he was incorrectly ruled offside and the goal was overturned.
At the half-hour mark, the Villarreal striker had another goal disallowed when he turned in a corner kick. However, the assistant referee raised his flag to signal that he was in an offside position when the flick- on occurred.
Mexico eventually grabbed the lead with the goal coming just after the hour mark, and Dos Santos had a hand in creating the scoring opportunity. He split the defense and fired a low shot on goal that was stopped by Charles Itandje, but Peralta was arriving to tuck home the rebound.
Peralta’s goal proved to be all El Tri would need to collect all three points as they closed out the match with the narrow lead intact, keeping a clean sheet to join Brazil atop Group A with three points apiece.
The result sets up a potentially thrilling match between Brazil and Mexico at the Estadio Castelao Tuesday.
Cameroon and Croatia, meanwhile, sit at the bottom of the group with zero points. They will look to bounce back when they meet at the Arena Amazonia Wednesday.