The Header Heard Round The World And More

Missed the action on Match Day 2 of World Cup 2014? Not to worry. The18 has you covered. Here's a recap of the big moments from Friday, June 13th. An unlucky day indeed, if you happen to be a fan of Spain.


Captain Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben led the Netherlands to a stunning 5-1 victory over defending champion Spain in the opening match of Group B. It was a confusing sight for football fans from the get-go, as thanks to FIFA, La Furia Roja (Spain) was wearing white and Le Oranje (Netherlands) was in blue. Additionally, it is difficult for fans of La Liga to see the Spanish team in action, as you have Barcelona and Real Madrid players working side-by-side for a common goal, which is the equivalent of Alabama and Auburn players teaming up. The horror.

In the early part of the match, per the usual, Spain dominated possession. Brazilian born Diego Costa, booed at every touch by the Brazilian fans for choosing Spain over Brazil, was at the center of the early action. Apparently his horse placenta treatment worked, as he was able to overcome the injuries that he suffered in the Champions League to make his first competitive appearance for Spain. He was rewarded in the 27th minute by winning a somewhat questionable penalty. Costa also later headbutted Bruno Martins Indi and was lucky not to be sent off. Between garnering a soft penalty and headbutting an opponent, he will fit in well with his new club Chelsea. Xabi Alonso, a pillar of handsomeness, stepped up to take the penalty and put it in the bottom left corner to give Spain a 1-0 lead.

That was about when the good news stopped for the defending champions. Forced to go on the attack, the Dutch were rewarded for their aggressiveness just before halftime when Van Persie headed home an equalizer. Following his world class finish, Van Persie raced to the sidelines to celebrate with manager Louis Van Gaal, his future Manchester United manager.

Van Persie celebrates after scoring an epic header
Van Persie celebrates his flying header, which put the Dutch firmly in control of the match (Photo: ESPN Broadcast)

Van Persie celebrates his flying header, which put the Dutch firmly in control of the match (Photo: ESPN Broadcast)

Following the halftime break, the skies opened up and the torrential downpour symbolized the woes for the Spanish team. Manager Vicente del Bosque, whose official royal title is the Marquisate of Del Bosque, whose style of address is “your illustriousness” (seriously), had no answers as the Dutch poured it on in the second half. In the 53rd minute, Robben exercised his demons from the 2010 World Cup Final with a brilliant first touch following a long ball, cutting to his left (as usual) and putting it past Spanish keeper Iker Casillas to give the Netherlands the lead. It was a lead they would not vanquish, as further goals from Stefan de Vrij and one each from Robben and Van Persie led the rout.

The humbling defeat understandably raised many questions about the Spanish squad. It was the most goals a Spanish team had surrendered at a World Cup since 1950. While the Spanish tiki taka style’s weakness is the counterattack, as seen in some of Barcelona’s recent Champions League matches, this defeat was particularly appalling. Former and current Real Madrid managers Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti seemed validated for frequently leaving Casillas out of their regular squad, as he was particularly awful. Though the Spanish are far from out of it, with Chile’s victory over the Socceroos, la Furia Roja now face an uphill battle just to get out of the group.

Man of the Match: Hard to pick between Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben. Both were superb and each had two world class goals. This Dutch squad looks like a force to be reckoned with.

Goat of the Match: Iker Casillas. Unsteady in front of goal, his mishandling of a back pass allowed Van Persie to swoop in for his second goal. After that performance, his illustriousness Vicente Del Bosque must be considering swapping out the captain for David de Gea or Pepe Reina for the next match.


Chile persevered through a tough challenge from Australia to grab three vital points in a 3-1 victory. In a match that was closer than the scoreline indicates, Chile jumped out to a fast start thanks to two quick goals in succession. Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez struck first in the 12th minute following some confusion in front of the goal to give the Chileans an early lead. Chile struck again a mere two minutes later when Eduardo Vargas’s well-time pass allowed Jorge Valdivia to put home a clinical finish giving Chile a commanding 2-0 lead.

Following the second goal, the Chileans became a bit complacent with the ball. Seeming to try and pick their way through the defense, they were frequently frustrated in the area near the Australian goal, which allowed the Australians to go on the break. The Socceroos were undeterred by their early deficit and refused to give in. Their talisman and current New York Red Bulls star Tim Cahill brought Australia back into the match with a strong header in the 35th minute, resoundingly beating his man in the air.

The Australians were in the match throughout and Cahill had another goal waved off after he was caught offsides in the 53rd minute. The majority of the Australian attack occurred on the break and they looked rather dangerous. The Chileans were able to stave off the danger, however, and almost scored in the 61st minute, but Australian defender Alex Wilkinson brilliantly saved a potential goal from Vargas by clearing the ball off the line. There were a few nervy moments after that for the Chileans, but Jean Beausejour clinched the victory with a goal in the 92nd minute.

Following Spain’s shock destruction at the hands of the Netherlands, Chile must now fancy its chances to advance out of the group. They take on the Spanish next on June 18th and even a draw may be enough to vanquish the defending champions.

Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez. Opened the scoring and was a constant threat throughout, as the Australians had to burn several yellow cards disrupting him on the break.

Goat of the Match: Hard to pin it on any of the Australians, but overall the defense could have done better clearing the action in front of goal. The defenders can share the blame for this one.

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