Football: Van Persie stars as goals rain down on Spain

Football: Van Persie stars as goals rain down on Spain

SALVADOR, Brazil - Robin van Persie scored one of the greatest World Cup goals ever and claimed the Netherlands could have smashed eight past defending champions Spain after his side's superb 5-1 triumph.

The Dutch captain escaped his marker Sergio Ramos and hurled himself at a long pass from Daley Blind just before half-time seeing his header loop over stranded goalkeeper Iker Casillas and sparking a nightmare match for the Spanish skipper.

The Salvador stadium, drenched by a rainstorm, erupted into Dutch orange. And the goals were soon to come raining down on Casillas and Spain, defending world and European champions. Another from van Persie, two from the equally brilliant Arjen Robben and one from Stefan de Vrij.

Van Persie said the victory against the team who beat them in the 2010 final was down to the preparation and self-belief instilled by coach Louis van Gaal, who will soon be at van Persie's club Manchester United.

"For the whole of the Netherlands, this is a dream come true," the 30-year-old striker said.

"It was five, but it could have been six, seven or eight goals, in my opinion," he added, barely able to believe the size of the win.

Van Persie hailed his goal as the best of his career.

"I look at the occasion, and this was one of the biggest occasions, and it was a brilliant goal," he said.

"But it was a bit of a gamble. I saw Iker Casillas standing out of his goal, so it was a header and a lobbed header. A great goal." He scored a similar goal against Charlton for previous club Arsenal in the English league but said this was more special because it was against the world champions.

Van Persie went on to dispossess Casillas and tap into an empty net for his second goal and the Spanish skipper was disconsolate after the savage drubbing.

"I have to ask forgiveness for the match we played in general and me in particular," Casillas said. "I was not good enough." Van Persie urged his Oranje team-mates to stay focused on their World Cup campaign.

Netherlands now face Australia next Wednesday in Porto Alegro, but van Persie says they must build on their win and put to the back of their minds any thoughts of reaching a second consecutive World Cup final.

"We've beaten the best team in the world for the last six years and if you look at how much we wanted it and how well we played, it's a massive compliment to the team," said the man-of-the-match.

"We have to take it all in and enjoy it, but then focus on Australia, this was an incredible evening for the whole of Holland, but it's only three points." Van Persie has a history of being part of Dutch squads who dazzle in the group stages at major tournaments, only to bow out in the knock-out stages.

Having made his international debut in 2005, Van Persie was part of Marco van Basten's Dutch squad which was beaten by Portugal in a bad-tempered encounter in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup.

He was also in the squad when the Netherlands humbled both Italy and France at Euro 2008 to dominate their group, only to bow out in the quarter-finals 3-1 against Russia, who were coached by a former Dutch national coach Guus Hiddink.

However, memories of the dreadful showing at Euro 2012 are still fresh in the memory as just two years after reaching the World Cup final they exited in the first round having lost all three games to Germany, Portugal and Denmark.

Van Persie said the squad needs to work together to improve if they are to become the first European side to win the World Cup in South America.

The Dutch reached the final of the last World Cup to be held in South America but lost to hosts Argentina 3-1 after extra-time in 1978.

"I've been here before, this is my fifth tournament and I don't want us to be too excited, because this is just one game and three points," said van Persie.

"We have to improve and we have to stick together."

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