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World Cup: Netherlands thrashes Spain 5-1 in opener
World Cup » Netherlands coach, ripped for his emphasis on defense, appears to be vindicated after stunning 5-1 win over defending champs.

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"To be quite honest, we did not expect it," he said. "This has got to do with strategy and the dedication of the players to execute with conviction."

Fitness also appeared to play a role in Spain’s second-half collapse. While the veteran Spanish players tired, the Dutch still looked fresh despite the humidity at the Arena Fonte Nova.

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Van Persie’s header is an early contender for goal of the tournament.

As Blind’s 40-yard pass sailed toward him, the striker glanced up and saw Casillas off his line and in no-man’s-land. Van Persie dived full-length and sent a looping header over the stranded goalie and slid on his stomach on the wet grass before running to the sidelines with his fists clenched to exchange a high five with Van Gaal.

"Unbelievable," Van Persie said of the victory. "For the whole Netherlands, this is a dream come true."

Robben had a masterful goal of his own, reaching high to stop a long Blind pass with his left leg, cutting back quickly with his right as defender Gerard Pique spun out of position, and scoring with his left as Sergio Ramos dove toward him.

If Robben hadn’t yet buried the memory of his crucial miss in the 2010 final — he helped Bayern win the Champions League in 2013 — his play Friday should do it.

"This is just pure enjoyment," he said. "I’m top fit this season and this is a beautiful confirmation of that."

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