40 Greatest Goals in World Cup History: #28 Robin van Persie - Netherlands vs Spain ('14)
One of the most memorable matches of FIFA World Cup 2014 was the clash between the finalists of the World Cup in 2010, Spain and the Netherlands, as the two were drawn against each other in the same group.
The Spaniards had cruelly edged out the Dutch in the final of the tournament in South Africa after Andres Iniesta came up with the most important goal in their history to land them their first ever World Cup.
Four years later, the Dutch had a chance to avenge their loss from the last time the two sides had met in the competition. And it's fair to say that they not only managed to leave behind their disappointments of 2010, but also dealt Spain one of the most humiliating exits in the history of the World Cup.
The first match of the group featured the two titans and although the game started auspiciously for Spain, as Xabi Alonso put his side in the lead from the spot, things spiraled horribly out of control not too much later.
Eighty minutes on the clock, and the world was left in complete shock. Utter disbelief. The score-line read 1-5 in favour of the Oranje. Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben had scored a brace each and the Dutch had ravaged and pillaged the Spanish side in front of the gazing eyes of the world.
Another shocking defeat to Chile in their next match meant that Spain would not be able to defend their title, but we reckon all the damage was done when the Dutch captain came up with one of the most unbelievable efforts to level it up on the stroke of halftime.
What a cracking moment of improvisation from Robin van Persie!
He'd been so quiet, he'd barely had a touch but he only needed a second to make a difference. It all started with Daley Blind on the left flank. He raked a gorgeous diagonal pass from left to right, the ball looping over Sergio Ramos and through to Van Persie.
Suddenly, thoughts were turning back to 1998, Frank de Boer and Dennis Bergkamp. Van Persie could have brought it down.
Instead, he spotted Casillas half-a-yard too far forward and he embarrassed the Spain goalkeeper by lobbing him with a wonderful diving header from 15 yards that dropped perfectly into the net. Iker could only watch helplessly.
Little doubt why that particular flying header on the biggest stage ever, against one of the biggest teams ever, makes our list of 40 Greatest Goals in World Cup history.Published 17 May 2018, 15:28 IST