Salvador, Brazil – Spain manager Vicente del Bosque defended goalkeeper Iker Casillas as the inquest into the World Cup holders' 5-1 drubbing by the Netherlands continued.

The Dutch claimed emphatic revenge in Salvador for their defeat to Spain in the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa with Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben both claiming two goals each on Friday.

The Dutch scored four second-half goals without reply in their opening Group B match which leaves Spain needing to beat both Chile and Australia to keep alive dreams of defending the title.

The 33-year-old Casillas was caught off his line by Van Persie's looping header 90 seconds from the break to equalise after Xabi Alonso had converted a first-half penalty to give Spain the lead.

And Van Persie again got the better of the Real Madrid goalkeeper when he won a sprint to the ball to claim his second goal and Holland's fourth on 72 minutes.

But Robben could have easily finished with a hat-trick as Casillas pulled off a string of late saves with the Dutch attacking at will as Spain's centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique had games to forget.

“If a team loses it's not down to the performance of a single player,” said Del Bosque when asked if he would drop Casillas for Wednesday's crucial game against Chile at Rio's Maracana stadium.

“Defeats happen as a result of weaknesses in the entire squad, but least of all because of the performance of Iker Casillas.”

Spain conceded just two goals at the last World Cup and leaked only three in their Brazil qualifying campaign, leaving Del Bosque at a loss to explain how they let in five against the Dutch.

“I don't find the words to explain it, Spain has never been a very defensive team, but we have always coped very well defensively. We were very weak against the Dutch,” he said. – Sapa-AFP