"What a goal from RVP! Amazing what a bit of love can do," tweeted Gary Lineker as soon as Robin van Persie decided to leap forward in Superman-style to connect with a Daley Blind cross and send the ball over Iker Casillas for Netherlands' equaliser against Spain.
Lineker was talking about the love that was missing under David Moyes at Manchester United — where Van Persie was forced to forgo his carefully planned schedule under Alex Ferguson's coaching team for a more regular one which resulted in him playing just 28 games all season (compared to 48 in 2012/13) due to recurring injuries.
Under Louis van Gaal, RVP enjoys a completely different status. He is his country's captain and leads the line for a team which features a host of new names alongside the more well-known Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. And this status was personified when he ran towards his manager to high-five him — something that most people in football wouldn't even attempt.
After Spain had scored, Van Gaal slightly tweaked the positions of Robben and RVP — allowing the two to roam forward with instructions to play direct long-balls in their paths. Left-back Blind responded with two crosses of tremendous quality but it was left to the two attackers to apply the finishing touches — the first goal simply changing the mood of the Dutch when they went in at half-time. After the 45-minute mark, there was no stopping the Oranje.
One goal can change how strikers approach matches and his phenomenal header seemed to unshackle Van Persie and increase his belief in himself — a vital component for strikers to operate at their best. And after a two-goal cushion was created, with Robben and De Vrij making it 3-1 — Van Persie was simply roaming on top (he spent more than 75% of the match in the opposition's half) and harassing Spanish defenders — his pursuit finally coming to fruition when he robbed Casillas of the ball and turned in his second of the match. Actually, all his other stats are quite poor (67% passing, just one take on and he also got booked), but he had just one job — to score — and he did it perfectly.
The charts below show his shots and action chart.
Updated Date: Jun 14, 2014 04:10:43 IST