Netherlands striker Robin van Persie headed a spectacular late equalizer to leave the Dutch drawing 1-1 with defending champion Spain at halftime in their World Cup opener on Friday.

Xabi Alonso converted a 27th-minute penalty to give Spain a deserved 1-0 lead in the Group B game, a re-match of the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

Referee Nicola Rizzoli pointed to the spot after Stefan de Vrij brought down Diego Costa in the box and Alonso calmly stroked the ball low to Jasper Cillessen's right.

However, Van Persie rose to meet Daley Blind's long ball forward to send a looping header over Spain keeper Iker Casillas for the equalizer in the 44th minute.

As expected, Spain exerted most of the pressure at the Arena Fonte Nova.