Although Spain could still advance out of the group stage, the game might have signaled the end of the run by a generation of Spanish stars whose quick passing, “tiki-taka” style delighted the world and helped them win the past three major tournaments.
Dutch strikers Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben both scored twice, including Van Persie’s diving header off of an audacious 40-yard pass. The ball looped over hapless Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas as Van Persie slid on his stomach on the wet grass.
Defender Stefan de Vrij also scored in a dominating second half that had the orange-clad Dutch fans on their feet the whole time.
“Unbelievable,” Van Persie said. “For the whole Netherlands, this is a dream come true.”
It was the worst loss for Spain in the game’s showcase tournament since a 6-1 defeat to Brazil in 1950.
“This was a total disaster,” said Spain striker Fernando Torres. “We need to focus on winning the next game.”
MEXICO 1, CAMEROON 0
In Natal, Brazil, Mexico overcame torrential rain and two disallowed goals to beat Cameroon, picking up the three points it needed to have any chance of advancing from a tough group.
Oribe Peralta scored in the 61st minute, giving Mexico its first win over win over an African team at the World Cup and justifying coach Miguel Herrera’s decision to start him ahead of striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, arguably the country’s best known player.
Giovanni Dos Santos twice put the ball in the net in the first half hour, only to have both efforts called back. He was ruled offside in the 11th minute and his header from a corner in the 29th was denied when referee Wilmar Roldan apparently called a foul in front of Cameroon goalkeeper Charles Itandje.
CHILE 3, AUSTRALIA 1
In Cuiaba, Brazil, Alexis Sanchez led Chile over Australia, scoring one goal and setting up another for one of the dangerous outsiders in the tournament.
Sanchez poked home a goal from close range in the 12th minute before setting up Jorge Valdivia barely a minute later.
Australia responded with a trademark headed goal by star forward Tim Cahill in the 35th.
But Jean Beausejour put the game away for Chile in injury time.