The tournament opener was a national record for a women’s football match with 21,732 in Utrecht to see the Dutch take three points in Group A. In the other game in the group, Denmark edged out Belgium.The Netherlands made a dream start to their home Women’s European Championship with a 1-0 win over Norway in Utrecht.
A 66th-minute goal from Liverpool’s Shanice van de Sanden secured the first three points of the competition in front of King Willem-Alexander and former men’s national team coach Louis van Gaal.
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The hosts were backed enthusiastically at the home of Eredivisie side FC Utrecht and the tempo on the pitch matched the effervescence in the stands.
As early as the first minute, van de Sanden dribbled through the Norway defense and crossed for Lieke Martens who snatched at the opportunity inside the 18-yard-box with the goal in sight.
Martens, in particular, provided a bunch of excellent crosses and connected middle-to-front superbly for the Dutch.
Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedem was the direct recipient of that creativity and she was desperately unlucky not to put the Dutch in front inside the first 45 minutes.
But the Netherlands’ dominance would be rewarded in the second half as the Norwegian defense struggled to cope with the fluidity of the hosts in attack.
Left-sided Martens, who completed a highly-anticipated move to Barcelona last week, crossed with pin-point accuracy and van de Sanden headed in from close range.
Ajax midifelder Desiree van Lunteren carved out a chance with 10 minutes left, but she was muscled off the ball as she was about to pull the trigger.
It was the perfect start to the home tournament for the Netherlands, who will look to continue a bright start against Denmark on Thursday, while defeated Norway will take on Belgium in Breda.
Early does it for Denmark
A sixth mnute Sanne Troelsgaard was enough to secure Denmark an opening win over Belgium. The Danes dominated the first half and Nadia Nadim almost made it 2-0, but her two shots were blocked by the Belgian defence — the second one with an arm but no penalty was awarded.
Belgium did exert some pressure after the break, but Janice Cayman flicked Maud Coutereels’s header into Danish keeper Stina Petersen who also stopped a low shot from Tessa Wullaert, Belgium’s offensive star.
Belgium got the closest to scoring just before the end when Danish defender Simone Boye deflected Wullaert’s free kick into the crossbar with a header.
Germany’s campaign gets underway on Monday night when Steffi Jones’ team take on Sweden.