Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice as the Netherlands thrashed reigning champions Spain 5-1 in their World Cup Group B opener at the Arena Fonte Nova, in Salvador.
Gaining sweet revenge for their final defeat in 2010, Netherlands were in devastating form and even defender Stefan de Vrij got in on the goal scoring action to help his side get their Brazil trip off to a cracker.
Two-time reigning European champions and World Cup champions Spain took the lead on the 27th minute through Xabi Alonso after Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa went down under a challenge from de Vrij.
Van Persie, however, leveled the tie in spectacular fashion a minute before the break when he met a Daley Blind cross with a diving heading that lobbed a stranded Iker Casillas.
The second half was all Netherlands and after 53 minutes Robben controlled another superb Blind cross and fired home from close range to put Luis Van Gaal’s side ahead.
De Vrij added the third on 64 minutes when he bundled in a free kick at the back post.
Spain looked beaten and their misery wasn’t over.
Van Persie hit his second on the night, taking advantage of a fumble by Casillas in the 72nd minute.
Eight minutes later Robben celebrated his brace after toying with the Spanish defence before blasting home to complete a 5-1 humiliation for the holders.
The defeat was the heaviest for Spain under coach Vicente Del Bosque.
Chile too hot for Socceroos
Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez, Jorge Valdivia and Wigan’s Jean Beausejour all scored to hand Chile a 3-1 win over the Socceroos of Australia in their first game of Group B.
After Sanchez and Valdivia hit the mark within the first 14 minutes Australia’s record goalscorer Tim Cahill reduced the deficit ten minutes before the break.
But Beausejour ended all hopes of an Australia comeback in stoppage time.
Netherlands lead the show ahead of Chile, Australia and holders Spain.
Mexico enjoy opening win
Oribe Peralta scored on the 61st minute to hand Mexico a 1-0 win over Cameroon and get their Group A campaign off to the ideal start.
Giovani dos Santos had two goals controversially disallowed in the first half of the match at the Arena Das Dunas in Natal.
But in the driving rain Peralta wasn’t to be so cruelly denied in the second half.
He was on hand to steer home into an empty net after Cameroon keeper Charles Itandje failed to hold on to Dos Santos’ low drive.
Hosts Brazil and Mexico lead Group A ahead of Cameroon and Croatia, who prop up the bottom.
Challenging conditions await England and Italy
The eagerly-awaited clash between England and Italy takes place in Manaus on Saturday.
Climatic conditions will be hard going but the condition of the pitch is also a concern – being dry, patchy and hard and according to the groundsmen in ‘bad shape’.
Italy begin their hunt for a fifth World Cup title against the Three Lions in the Amazon jungle in north west Brazil where heat and humidity will be a factor.
Coach Cesare Prandelli will be without left-back Mattia De Sciglio after the defender picked up a thigh injury in training.
Otherwise Prandelli has a fully fit squad to choose from as midfielder Marco Verratti has recovered from flu and is available.
There will be plenty of superstar quality on show in Manaus with veteran Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli on one side and Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard on the other.
But England coach Roy Hodgson is expected to let his young guns loose also with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge set to gain starting spots while 20-year-old Ross Barkley is also in contention to start.
Revenge will be in the humid air after Italy beat England on penalties in the quarter finals of the European Championship two years ago.
Also in action on Saturday are fancied Uruguay and Costa Rica who complete the first round of fixtures in Group D.
Columbia v Greece
Surprise 2004 European Champions Greece take on Columbia in their Group C opener in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
Coach Fernando Santos boasts an experienced side but Greece have won just one out of six games in two previous World Cup finals appearances which will give little hope to their fans this time around.
Columbia enter the match as favourites but they’ll surely miss striker Radamel Falcao, whose knee injury suffered in January, ruled him out of a place in the squad.
In Falcao’s absence Teofilo Gutierrez or Carlos Bacca will carry Columbia’s goal-scoring hopes against a defensive-minded Greek side but will have lots of help from the talented Jackson Martinez and Juan Guillermo Cuadrado.
Ivory Coast and Japan square off on Sunday in Recife looking to get their Group C campaign off to a winner.
We might be wrong
Every day the Euronews’ sports team gives its predictions for each match.
You can leave your comments and send us your own predictions on the social networks, using #TheCornerScores.
Although I’m tempted to suggest England will prevail against Italy the general consensus is that that tie in Manaus will end 1-1
Uruguay should have no troubles with Costa Rica and we feel that match will end 3-0 in favour of coach Óscar Tabárez and his men.
Our team predicts Columbia will see off the defensive Greeks 1-0 while there should be some goals between Ivory Coast and Japan very early on Sunday with the African’s pipping it 3-2.