Van Persie, David Silva & more - how the Premier League stars performed in their World Cup opener

Spain suffered a 5-1 hammering at the hands of Netherlands, while Javier Hernandez missed a sitter in Mexico's 1-0 win over Cameroon
Spain's defence of the World Cup got off to the worst possible start after Netherlands - inspired by Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben - ran out 5-1 winners on Friday evening.

The Manchester United striker netted twice as he capitalised on a leaky Spain defence, while in the day's first fixture, Javier Hernandez and Samuel Eto'o both featured as Mexico edged past Cameroon.


The striker’s erstwhile Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand revealed before the game that Robin van Persie was reduced to the role of “sideshow” under David Moyes. Louis van Gaal clearly holds the former Arsenal striker in a higher regard and his captain rewarded him with a stunning headed equaliser against the run of play.

Van Persie hardly got a kick in the first half but the anticipation, poise, awareness and technique he displayed in powering Daley Blind’s long pass over Iker Casillas with an inch-perfect header represented  a stark reminder of the talent the 30-year-old possesses in abundance.

Van Persie rattled the crossbar with a thumping volley in the second half before he compounded Iker Casillas’ misery with an opportunistic strike after the goalkeeper miss controlled a simple pass back to him.


Prior to Van Persie pulling Netherlands level, Silva spurned a glorious chance to put Spain further ahead. The Manchester City midfielder was put through on goal by an exquisite pass from Andres Iniesta but his effort from 10 yards out lacked the power to cause Jasper Cillessen major problems.

Silva eventually had the ball in the net after the break but his effort from close range was rightly ruled out for offside. The 28-year-old was replaced by Fernando Torres with just over 10 minutes remaining.


The Aston Villa centre half was one of few players to emerge with any semblance of credit following a hugely disappointing season for Paul Lambert’s side and he carried his domestic form onto the international stage.

The rugged centre-half is by far the most experienced member of the Dutch’s rearguard and he used all of his nous to cope with the threat of Diego Costa, making one fabulous tackle in the first half to deny the Chelsea-bound striker and marshalled his defence superbly in the second.


The Chelsea full-back was outplayed by his opposite number Daley Blind, who launched a fine, raking pass to set-up Van Persie's leveller and a neat through ball to assist the first of Arjen Robben's two goals.

Despite his side shipping five goals, Azpilicueta was the most impressive member of Spain's back four. Solid when defending up close and assured in possession.


Struggled early on to cope with Spain’s incessant pressing and coughed up possession allowing Diego Costa the chance to hone in on goal before Ron Vlaar made a timely interception.

Kept things ticking over in midfield before he was substituted midway through the second half.


Eto’o, appearing in his fourth World Cup, looks unlikely to remain at Chelsea following an underwhelming season at Stamford Bridge. His ongoing war of words with Jose Mourinho is only likely to have one winner and after an innocuous performance against Mexico, it’s easy to see why the Portuguese appears to be under the impression that the former Barcelona and Inter man will be surplus to requirements next season.

Eto’o appeared to take on the role of manager in the pre-match warm-up but he hardly led by example on the pitch once the game got underway, rarely troubling his former Barcelona team-mate and fellow veteran Rafa Marquez. On the one occasion he did escape the attention of his markers the 33-year-old was unable to steer his left-footed shot inside the near post after he had been located by Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s fizzing low centre.


The Manchester United forward complained in the build-up to the match that he was uneasy with being labelled a super-sub but after Oribe Peralta’s winner and Hernandez’s late horror miss the 26-year-old may have to get used to spending more time on the substitutes’ bench.

Peralta, Mexico’s top goalscorer in qualifying, showed a predator’s instinct to tuck home the only goal of the game after Charles Itandje had made an impressive low save. By contrast, Hernandez, who Goal understands is likely to leave Old Trafford this summer, showed definite signs of ring rust when handed the opportunity to put the game beyond doubt in the closing stages, firing wildly over from six yards when completely unmarked.