Story of the game: In the rematch of last World Cup’s final, the two vastly different styles of play have clashed just like four years ago, but this time we have something to cheer about.
With Spain holding possession, Dutch defense made a number of mistakes at the back early, but their teammates across the back line (most often Ron Vlaar) were there to clean up the mess.
The defending champions finally broke through a half-hour in when Diego Costa latched onto a long ball from the mid-line, and Stefan de Vrij brought him down – barely – and Xabi Alonso slotted home the penalty.
However, just before the break a stunning header from Robin van Persie gave the Dutch a shocking equalizer, and the Manchester United striker immediately bolted over to his new manager Louis van Gaal after scoring.
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27′ – Diego Costa, on a cutback in the box, went down under incredibly slight contact from Stefan de Vrij and Xabi Alonso slotted home the penalty for a 1-0 Spain lead.
44′ – An incredible ball from Ajax left-back Davey Blind found Robin van Persie, and the striker unleashed a majestic diving header to knot things up at 1-1 just before halftime.
Other key moments:
8′ – Wesley Sneijder, on his 100th cap, broke against the run of play, and with two Spanish defenders trailing him the Dutchman failed to find a way past Iker Casillas, shooting at him for a good reflex save.
13′ – Jonathan de Guzman got caught in possession, and Diego Costa found himself one-on-one with Stefan de Vrij but the defender made a fantastic tackle to deny the Brazilian native.
43′ – Andres Iniesta found a streaking David Silva, and the Manchester City winger tried a chip but Jasper Cillessen got a fingertip to it and directed it wide.
Spain: Casillas; Pique, Ramos, Alba, Azpilicueta; Xavi, Alonso, Busquets; Silva, Iniesta; Costa.
Goals – Alonso (pen) 27′
Netherlands: Cillessen; Martins Indi, Vlaar, Blind; Janmaat, De Jong, De Guzman; Sneijder, Robben, van Persie.
Goals – van Persie 44′
Questions for the second half:
- Can the Dutch team get possession enough to pull their attacking trio of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, and Robin van Persie into the match? They’ve been useless thus far.
- Will Spain be able to build on their lead despite barely breaking through the Dutch defense? Their penalty has them in front, but the longer this match remains at 1-0, the longer the Dutch will grow confident they can even things up.