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Sunday June 15, 2014 MYT 2:37:02 AM
Sunday June 15, 2014 MYT 2:38:12 AM
by mike collett
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Robin van Persie's spectacular headed goal for the Netherlands against world champions Spain was described as "absolutely phenomenal" by former France manager Gerard Houllier on Saturday.
Houllier, a member of FIFA's Technical Study Group for the last 20 years, could hardly contain his delight in describing the goal when members of the group briefed reporters at the Maracana on Saturday.
"It was absolutely phenomenal," Houllier said. "Everything about it from a technical point of view was at such high level. The way he watched the ball, the way he moved, a diving header but more."
Jean-Paul Brigger, the head of the group who was a prolific striker and played 35 times for Switzerland, said the goal was astonishing.
"It is was what separates the truly great players from the rest of us," he told Reuters.
"In all my years as a professional I could never have scored a goal like that. He had a 1,000 things in his mind as the ball came to him, what was he going to do?"
Van Persie got between defenders Sergio Ramos and Jordi Alba in the 44th minute to meet a searching Daley Blind cross with a powerful header that left goalkeeper Iker Casillas rooted to the spot.
But what was so special about the goal was the way Van Persie lifted his head like a seal to give the ball the height and flight to go over Casillas and into the net from 18 yards out.
"He chose the right thing and it was remarkable,@ Brigger said.
"If I was the head of the Dutch airline company, I would sign him up tomorrow and use that image of a Dutchman flying through the air. It was just fantastic.
"After the first four games of the 2010 World Cup we had five goals and we have had 15 goals after the first four matches played here," he added.
"I hope that we see a great spectacular World Cup here. The game is now so fast, with great technique and some superb strikers and it is all set up for a great tournament."
Houllier said young players who could deal well with the conditions could be key to success for many teams but he did not think that tiredness from the European season would be a factor.
"Freshness in a competition is the key to success. Only the players who were in the Champions League final have not had much of a break, the rest should be fine and have had time to recover properly," he said.
"I think the team that will win the World Cup will be a team that attacks and takes risks.
"Regarding last night's game (when the Netherlands beat Spain 5-1) it shows no-one is invincible. But it's true that Spain had a lot of players in the Champions League final and that took a lot of their energy."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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