The Netherlands avenged their defeat in the 2010 World Cup final when they dismantled Spain in Salvador on Friday night, blasting five past Casillas having gone behind to a Xabi Alonso penalty in the first half.
There was noticeably less aggression than in the final of four years ago but it took a while for both sides to find their rhythm. Spain played the game everyone expected them to, with short, sharp passing movements carrying them through and across midfield as they sought to create openings for striker Diego Costa.
For their part, the Netherlands initially struggled to find forward momentum concentrating most of their efforts on not allowing the Spanish to get up a head of steam. And yet the best opportunity of the opening exchanges went to the Dutch when Wesley Sneijder was played through the Spanish defence just eight minutes in.
With just Casillas to beat Sneijder aimed his shot too close to the Spanish ‘keeper and the chance, a great chance, slipped away. At the other end Ron Vlaar did an excellent job of shepherding Costa away from goal when he had found space inside the Dutch area, but Stefan de Vrij did a less impressive job in similar circumstances on 27 minutes.
As Costa turned with the ball at his feet de Vrij caught the striker with his trailing leg and moments later Xabi Alonso fired Spain ahead from the penalty spot.
Spain took heart from their lead and looked as if they might extend their advantage when David Silva was played in on goal by a sublime pass from Iniesta, but his attempt to chip Cillessen was not as perfect as it needed to be and the Dutch keeper palmed the ball around his post.
The Netherlands needed something special to get themselves back on terms and that came just one minute before the break when a long ball over the top by Daley Blind found the run of Robin van Persie whose spectacular swallow-dive was judged to perfection. Casillas watched helplessly as the ball looped over his head and into the net.
Seven minutes after the restart the Netherlands went ahead when Arjen Robben took down a ball from the left, cut inside Gerard Pique and kept his cool to drill the ball low past Casillas.
Suddenly Spanish passes were going astray and the World Champions looked fragile. A lung-busting run by Robben led to a flick on by Janmaat and van Persie rattled the crossbar with a fiercely hit volley from a tight angle on the right.
Vincent del Bosque sent on Pedro and Fernando Torres in an attempt to wrest back control of the game but moments later the Netherlands bagged a third. A free kick from wide on the left was met by de Vrij at the back post and the ball squeezed through the narrowest of gaps and into the goal.
Silva had the ball in the Dutch net on 67 minutes but a linesman’s flag ensured that the Netherlands held their two-goal advantage and five minutes later a catastrophic error from Casillas extended that to three.
Fielding a simple ball, the Spanish keeper took a heavy touch and van Persie pounced to steal the ball and poke it into an empty net. And with ten minutes remaining Louis van Gaal’s team piled yet more misery on top of the Spanish when Robben tore after a ball into space, beat Ramos over thirty yards and then twisted past Casillas to batter his shot past the two defenders who had made it back to cover the goal-line.
It might have been even worse for Spain with Wijnaldum missing when well placed and Casillas pulling off a superb save from Robben’s follow up volley.
Spain: Iker Casillas; Cesar Azpilicueta, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Ramos; David Silva (Cesc Fabregas 78), Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso (Pedro Rodriguez 62), Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta; Diego Costa (Fernando Torres 62).
Subs not used: David de Gea, Pepe Reina, Raul Albiol, Juanfran, Koke, Santi Cazorla, Javi Martinez, Juan Mata, David Villa.
Netherlands: Jasper Cillessen; Daryl Janmaat, Stefan de Vrij (Joel Veltman 77), Ron Vlaar, Bruno Martins Indi, Daley Blind; Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, Jonathan de Guzman (Georginio Wijnaldum 62), Arjen Robben; Robin van Persie (Jeremain Lens 79).
Subs not used: Michel Vorm, Tim Krul, Paul Verhaegh, Terence Kongolo, Dirk Kuyt, Jordy Clasie, Leroy Fer, Klass Jan Huntelaar, Memphis Depay.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Extratime Man of the Match: Arjen Robben (The Netherlands).
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org