The 2014 World Cup has an early contender for golazo of the tournament.
Trailing Spain 1-0 with the first half nearly over, the Dutch needed a moment to jolt them back into the game. That's when Daley Blind spotted Robin van Persie making a run between the Spanish defence and lofted a perfect pass into the box. What followed was pure brilliance from Van Persie, which is really better seen than described.
ESPN FC passes it along:
In the immortal words of Ray Hudson, that goal was magisterial. Will the following picture become the defining image of this year's World Cup?
And as you might have guessed, Twitter was ablaze with wonder and hysteria after the incredible header. In case you weren't already impressed with the score, just consider the following from Paul Carr of ESPN:
Robin van Persie's 17-yard header is the longest headed World Cup goal since Bulgaria's Nasko Sirakov in 1986.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 13, 2014
Here's another way of looking at the distance, via ESPN Stats & Information:
The sheer technique and flexibility required to pull off the feat is astonishing. As Matteo Bonetti of beIN Sport tweeted, such an attempt would have left him more likely writhing on the pitch in pain than racing toward his manager in celebration:
If I even tried to attempt that header that Van Persie scored, I 1. Would not have made contact with ball, and 2. Severed my spine in half— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) June 13, 2014
And Brian Phillips of Grantland was a bit surprised that Van Persie—known for his history of injuries—didn't pick up a knock himself for the effort:
The pass was a miracle, the goal was a miracle, and the fact that Van Persie didn't explode into shards was the greatest miracle of all.— Brian Phillips (@runofplay) June 13, 2014
But it was the aforementioned celebration, as Van Persie raced toward Louis van Gaal, that Phil McNulty suspects could bode very well for Manchester United, where the two will be paired this season:
Brilliant goal of vision, technique & athleticism by Van Persie and straight to Van Gaal....sign of things to come at Old Trafford?— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) June 13, 2014
Van Persie deserves the plaudits, of course, but what of that pass from Blind? Michael Cox of ESPN FC reminds us to praise the assist, too:
Top, top goal. Great awareness from Van Persie, Frank De Boer-esque pass from Blind— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) June 13, 2014
It was a brilliant pass, a brilliant goal and, yes, the reactions on Twitter were brilliant as well. If the Dutch have more goals like that in them, they are going to be an extremely difficult team to beat at this year's World Cup.
But Van Persie wasn't done. For that matter, neither were the Dutch.
Already leading 3-1, Van Persie would find the net again after Iker Casillas spilled a back pass. From there, the Dutch striker calmly won the ball and earned his brace.
Let's put that second goal in perspective, shall we. Squawka Football, you start:
Over to you, WhoScored:
OptaJoe, take us home:
10 - Robin van Persie has scored 10 goals in his last nine appearances for Netherlands. Flying.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 13, 2014
We came in knowing Van Persie's quality. Now, we'll wonder if he can translate that into a Golden Boot—or perhaps in this case, a Golden Head—at this year's tournament.
And how about the Dutch? Beating Spain—the defending World Cup champions and two-time defending European champions—was impressive enough. But to absolutely blow them out, well, the concerns people had about the Netherlands coming into this tournament have been washed away.
Behind Van Persie, this is once again a team to be feared. The Oranje have arrived in a big way.