World Cup 2014: Vlaar colossal in emphatic 5-1 Dutch win
Villa skipper Ron Vlaar put in a performance of concrete proportions as the Netherlands shocked World Cup holders Spain with a 5-1 win in the opening game of Group B.
Vlaar was at the heart of the Dutch defence and his experience told alongside starlets Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi in a brave back three.
Spain started well and went 1-0 up through a Xabi Alonso penalty on 27 minutes but they could have been further ahead at that point if it hadn't been for Vlaar.
First up, he managed to race back and put in a colossal block to deny Diego Costa on 13 minutes before again putting in the block as David Silva sprung in behind the Holland backline on 20 minutes.
After conceding the well-struck spot-kick seven minutes later, which gave keeper Jasper Cillessen no chance, the Dutch found their 'total football' big-time.
Robin van Persie equalised on the stroke of half-time with a heroic header after an epic 45 yard pass from Daley Blind.
Then Arjen Robben calmly cut inside Gerard Pique on 53 minutes and lashed into the roof of the net.
Centre-half de Vrij nodded home with a header at the back post on 64 minutes before an Iker Casillas blunder let in Man Utd forward van Persie who slid the loose ball over the line on 74 minutes.
Robben finished the scoring on 80 minutes as he tore past Sergio Ramos with ease before going around Casillas, getting the ball on to his left foot and lashing in.
Vlaar was immense throughout the 90 minutes and did exactly what he needed to throughout the compelling contest.
Netherlands next game takes place on Wednesday June 18 as they face Australia, kick-off 5pm BST.
Their final group match is on Monday June 23 against Chile, kick-off 5pm BST.
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