KEIR RADNEDGE in SALVADOR: Louis Van Gaal played it characteristically cool after Holland’s second-half revival secured an astonishing 5-1 defeat of champions Spain at the World Cup.

The game went according to plan, said Holland’s coach. The only factor which was a surprise for him was that his players scored so many goals. But, he also warned, they would keep on improving as the finals went on.

He said: “We scored five goals and conceded one. Of course that’s not what was expected at the beginnng but the way the goals were scored was what I had expected. It’s just that I had not expevted as many as this.

“But it was to do with our strategy and the dedication of the players.”

Van Gaal conceded that his players had not matched his expectations in the warm-up games against Ecuador, Ghana and Wales.


This was one of the reasons he was confident his players would not become over-confidence just because they had put five goals past Spain.

Van Gaal said: “I told them this in the dressing room straight after the game. But we have enough players to make sure we don’t lose ourselves in the euphoria and we also have a technical staff who will make sure that doesn’t happen.”

For Manchester United-bound Van Gaal, La Liga is “the strongest league on planet earth.” While he did not believe the Spanish players were short of fitness, he did emphasise the work his players had invested in preparing for the specific climatic conditions in Brazil.

Both on Wednesday and again on the morning of the game the players were allowed time with their families.

Van Gaal said: “My principle concerns the overall picture, the total person. The player’s brain and psyche plays a part and that is influenced by his environment so that is why I gave permission for the wives and children to visit the hotel.

“I believe that makes happy players though it’s not the reason for our victory.”

Captain Robin Van Persie praised Van Gaal for masterminding victory, saying: “This is definitely down to him. If you see how he prepared us, and how he predicted the game would go, and you see how it went – unbelievable.

“For the whole Netherlands, this is a dream come true.”