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Spain’s Cesar Azpilicueta (left), and Netherlands’ Arjen Robben chase the ball during the Group B World Cup soccer match between Spain and the Netherlands at the Arena Ponte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, June 13. (AP)
Superb Dutch hammer Spain Mexico pip Cameroon as officials flop again

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 13, (RTRS): Stunning goals from Dutch captain Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben ensured an awful start to Spain’s World Cup defence as the Netherlands destroyed one of the tournament favourites 5-1 in Group B on Friday. In complete contrast to the tetchy World Cup final between the sides in 2010 which Spain won 1-0, the Dutch took revenge with a pulsating display capped off by two goals each for Van Persie and Robben and one by Stefan de Vrij. Spain, also 2008 and 2012 European champions, took a 27th- minute lead through a Xabi Alonso penalty after Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa went down under a challenge from de Vrij, only for Van Persie to equalise brilliantly in the 44th minute.

The Dutch forward stole in between Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba to meet a searching Daley Blind cross with a powerful diving header that left goalkeeper Iker Casillas rooted. Moments before Van Persie’s goal Spain missed a glorious chance to double their lead when midfielder David Silva’s cheeky chip was pushed wide for a corner. It was a wasted chance they came to rue. After the break the Dutch poured forward and went ahead after 53 minutes when Robben got on the end of another superb Blind lobbed pass before turning Gerard Pique and holding off Sergio Ramos to fire home from seven metres.
 

The match opened up but in the Netherlands’ favour with De Vrij stealing in on 64 minutes at the back post to convert a free kick after Van Persie put Casillas under pressure. It got worse for Spain as Van Persie added a fourth after taking advantage of a sloppy touch by Casillas to slot home in the 72nd minute and Robben stunned a raucous crowd as he toyed with the Spanish defence and Casillas before belting home in the 80th.
 

The defeat was the heaviest for Spain under coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Earlier, Mexico got just rewards for their attacking intent when Oribe Peralta’s 61st minute strike gave them a 1-0 win over Cameroon in their World Cup opener at a rain-saturated Dunas arena on Friday.
The Mexicans had two Giovani dos Santos efforts controversially disallowed in the first half but Peralta’s goal means they will now feel they have a good chance of progressing from Group A, which also includes hosts Brazil and Croatia.
Cameroon, who only arrived in Brazil after a player strike was averted by last-minute negotiations, had packed their midfield in an attempt to stifle the Mexicans and lone striker Samuel Eto’o failed to find the goal with his few opportunities.
 

Mexico came out to attack as coach Miguel Herrera had promised and “El Tri” dominated the opening exchanges with wingbacks Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar getting plenty of space out wide.
Dos Santos first found the net with a neat volley after 11 minutes but was called back despite appearing to be in line with the defenders.
Cameroon could have taken the lead after 21 minutes when fullback Benoit Assou-Ekotto beat two defenders and found Eto’o in the box but the striker was able only hit the outside of the post.
Eto’o had another chance three minutes later but was unable to control the ball when Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting headed it down to his feet in the six yard box.
 

Mexico should have been in front after 29 minutes when Andres Guardado’s free kick from the right found Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno unmarked at the far post but the opportunity went begging.
If the decision to deny dos Santos a first goal could be called a marginal call, the second after half an hour was a clear error.
A corner swung in from the left was flicked on by one Cameroon defender and, as another raced off the line, dos Santos managed to turn back and head the ball into the net.
As the rain continued to lash down, Peralta almost broke the deadlock three minutes after the break when dos Santos’s flick played him through on goal only for Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje to block his shot with his legs.
 

Cameroon’s Assou-Ekotto had a free kick deflected off the Mexico wall and just wide after 58 minutes but the game did not have to wait much longer for its first goal.
Dos Santos was released through the middle of the Cameroon defence and when Itandje managed to stop his low drive, Peralta was on hand to steer the ball into the empty net and send Herrera and the thousands of Mexican fans into paroxysms of joy.
Cameroon continued to threaten from set pieces and Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was forced to make a fine save to prevent Benjamin Moukandjo equalising with a header in stoppage time.
Branded traitors at home after the strike over bonuses, the Cameroon players had hoped to answer their critics on the pitch and a fifth successive World Cup defeat was not what that had been looking for.

Cameroon have now won just one World Cup match since becoming the first African team to reach the quarter-finals in 1990.


World Cup Results/Standings
Brazil    3    Croatia    1
Mexico    1    Cameron    0
Netherlands    5    Spain    1
Standings
Group A
    P    W    D    L    GF    GA    Pts
Brazil    1    1    0    0    3    1    3
Mexico    1    1    0    0    1    0    3
Cameroon    1    0    0    1    0    1    0
Croatia    1    0    0    1    1    3    0
Group B
    P    W    D    L    GF    GA    Pts
Netherlands    1    1    0    0    5    1    3
Chile    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
Australia    0    0    0    0    0    0    0
Spain    1    0    0    1    1    5    0
Note: Standings read as played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against and points. (RTRS)

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