Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice as the Netherlands avenged their 2010 World Cup final defeat by routing holders Spain 5-1 on Friday in a record-breaking humiliation.
As well as it being the worst ever mauling inflicted at a World Cup on the reigning champions, it was the worst defeat suffered by Spain in more than half a century, coming 51 years after a 6-2 defeat to Scotland in 1963.
"I certainly didn’t expect this result but I did expect us to score in the way we did," Dutch coach Louis van Gaal told reporters.
"Spain were always going to come at us and we catch them on the counter. My players did it perfectly. It’s far better than we ever expected."
Only once before had Spain conceded five times in a World Cup game, on Brazilian turf in 1950 in a 6-1 loss to the hosts. The Dutch mauling at Salvador’s Fonte Nova arena was also the worst ever start for defending world champions.
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 remarkable diving header that left goalkeeper Iker Casillas rooted.
“It was a great goal, I have to be fair,” Van Persie said. “Considering the circumstances, it must be the goal of my career.”
WATCH: Robin van Persie's stunning equaliser
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 sprinted on to a long pass and toyed with the Spanish defence and Casillas before belting home in the 80th.
“The first thing I have to say to the Spanish people is sorry,” Casillas said. “I wasn’t good enough.”
WATCH: Arjen Robben caps an amazing rout
The defeat was the heaviest for Spain under coach Vicente Del Bosque.
"I can’t find words to explain five goals," he said.
"We have never been a very defensive side but always coped well defending. Today we’ve been very weak.
"We kept on fighting but they were physically stronger as the game went on and that made a difference... It is now a delicate situation for us which we will and try and overcome in our next game against Chile and then see what happens."