Louis van Gaal, the Dutch national team’s head coach, has told his side to keep their feet on the ground following the stunning 5-1 victory over holders Spain in their FIFA World Cup opener.
Van Gaal’s team equalised after going one goal down by striker Robin van Persie with a stunning diving header just before the interval and ran riot with four unanswered goals in the second half in Salvador.
Van Persie grabbed a second after Iker Casillas’ error, Arjen Robben added two more and defender Stefan de Vrij completed the scoring.
Van Gaal, who takes over at Manchester United at the end of the tournament, cut an animated figure as the goals poured in but was eager to focus minds afterwards. “I did not expect that it would go this way, it could have been 6-1 or even more, and we had a very happy feeling,” he said.
“This is a nice start, but we have nothing. If we do not win our next game against Australia we have made no progress, but now we are obviously in a good position.”
Van Gaal shared a high-five celebration with United striker Van Persie after his first goal. “The pass from Daley Blind for Van Persie was fantastic, the finish was great,” he said.
“There was so much feeling. If you can make a goal in that way it’s great…really fantastic. It was great that he (Van Persie) came to me. That is a sign of appreciation and that appreciation is mutual,” Van Gaal added.
The 30-year-old Van Persie was eager to share in some mutual back-slapping with Van Gaal, giving him the lion’s share of the credit for the result. “This is incredible and inexplicable,” Van Persie told Voetbal International. “For us, this is a dream come true and we have to enjoy it – everyone in Holland must too.
“This is because of the coach. He has prepared us great and he predicted how the game would go. It’s incredible, because it was exactly as he and the staff predicted for us.”