Nether­lands, Den­mark win women’s Euro open­ers

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Shan­ice van de San­den’s bul­let header lifted hosts the Nether­lands past Nor­way while Den­mark beat Bel­gium as the women’s Euro tour­na­ment kicked off with two Group A games on Sun­day. Liver­pool winger Van de San­den’s 66th-minute goal gave the Dutch a de­served win over the 2013 run­ners-up in the com­pe­ti­tion opener in Utrecht.

In Doet­inchem, Sanne Troels­gaard spoiled Bel­gium’s Euro­pean cham­pi­onship de­but as she headed home on just six min­utes af­ter Bel­gian keeper Justien Odeurs had tipped a free kick into the cross­bar. Van de San­den cap­i­talised on a su­perb cross from Lieke Martens from the left wing that found her face to face with help­less Nor­way keeper In­grid Hjelm­seth.

Pleas­ing Utrecht’s sold-out Gal­gen­waard sta­dium, the Dutch were on the front foot through­out the game, with Martens and Arse­nal striker Anna Miedema a con­stant threat. Martens was de­nied twice by Hjelm­seth early into the game as the keeper first cleared her shot in the first minute fol­low­ing a cross from van de San­den, then tipped an­other over the bar ten min­utes later.

Miedema, who turned only 21 on Satur­day, sent two shots wide af­ter half­time, then an­other five min­utes from the end. “There was team work, there was fight­ing spirit, and we also wanted to play good foot­ball,” said Dutch coach Sa­rina Wieg­man.

“To­day all those in­gre­di­ents were there. That’s some­thing to be proud of.” Nor­way had a good chance in the sec­ond minute when Kris­tine Minde chipped the ball over Dutch keeper Sari van Vee­nen­daal but failed to find the goal. Nor­way’s coach Martin Sjoe­gren said the hosts’ vic­tory was “fair.”

“We had ma­jor prob­lems in our at­tack­ing game and we ended up very dis­or­gan­ised in de­fence be­cause of that.” Den­mark dom­i­nated the first half af­ter the early goal 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.

“We played a de­cent first half and we de­served to score,” said Den­mark coach Nils Nielsen. “In the sec­ond half Bel­gium started caus­ing us trou­ble and it was a bit tough but my play­ers fought hard for the win and I am happy about that.”

Bel­gium stepped up their pres­sure af­ter half­time, 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 gem. 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.

“We started off with too much re­spect for Den­mark and in awe of the fi­nals but at half­time I told them not to show Den­mark that much re­spect... it’s a pity we didn’t equalise,” said Bel­gium coach Ives Serneels. — AFP

UTRECHT: Nether­land’s Vi­vianne Miedema (C) vie for the ball with Nor­way’s In­grid Hjelm­seth (L) and Maren Mjelde dur­ing the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 foot­ball tour­na­ment be­tween Nor­way and The Nether­lands at Gal­gen­waard Sta­dium in Utrecht on Sun­day. —AFP

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