Netherlands open EUROs with energetic win
The Netherlands authored a rousing start to their home European Championship by defeating 2013 runners-up Norway, 1-0, in front of a boisterous crowd at Stadion Galgenwaard in Utrecht. The announced crowd of 21,732—the largest ever to take in a women’s game in the Netherlands—was loud throughout, never more so than after Shanice van de Sanden netted the only goal.
Following a back-and-forth first half that featured chances on both ends and some sharp play from respective keepers Sari van Veenendaal and Ingrid Hjelmseth, Netherlands controlled a large majority of the second. The goal came in the 66th minute when Lieke Martens served a perfect cross to find van se Sanden nestled in between three Norway defenders. The resulting header from close range was never going anywhere besides the back of the net. The Netherlands nearly went ahead 2-0 in the 73rd but Vivianne Miedema’s shot as saved by Hjelmseth.
Norway created a few chances in the final, desperate minutes but were unable to generate any sustained attack in the second half. Ada Hegerberg came closest to equalizing in stoppage time but was rarely a factor in the second half. Hegerberg was booked though which has her on notice for the remainder of the tournament. In the first half, Carolina Graham Hanson ravaged right flank for Norway but was unable to turn it into a goal.
Denmark survive second-half rally to avoid defeat
Day 1 continued with Denmark closing out Group A’s opening round with a 1-0 win over Belgium at Stadion De Vijverberg in Doetinchem. Although the game lacked the rousing enthusiasm of the opening match’s home crowd, strong performances by Denmark in the first half and Belgium still brought a level of excitement typical of such tournaments. Denmark scored first and scored early, and despite a much stronger second half by the Belgian side managed to win their first ever EURO opener.
Nadia Nadim–featured in Denmark’s starting lineup along with her NWSL colleague Line Sigvardsen Jensen–was instrumental in the match’s lone goal, drawing a foul just outside the box. The foul resulted in a Danish free kick front and center of Belgium’s goal. Pernille Harder’s took the kick and put it on goal, but her shot was tipped by Belgian goalkeeper Justien Odeurs and deflected off the crossbar. However, Sanne Troelsgaard Neilsen was there to head the rebound in to put the Danes on the board in just the 6th minute. Denmark continued knocking, looking as though they were going to double their lead, only to be denied each time.
The second half was the polar opposite of the first, with the Belgians being the more dominant side for the final 45. Danish keeper Stina Lykke Petersen was called upon a number of times to ensure the clean sheet. Belgium put a number of shots on target, but the scariest chance for an equalizer was a near own goal late in the game that, luckily for Denmark, deflected off the crossbar. As the game heated up, so did the physicality, leaving Denmark in a bit of a precarious situation as four of its players were issued yellow cards in the second half.
Group A play will resume on Thursday, July 20 with Norway and Belgium facing off at 12 p.m. ET, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark at 2:45 p.m. ET. 2017 EURO action returns tomorrow with Group B taking center stage as Italy and Russia open things up at 12 p.m. ET, followed by a rematch of the 2016 Olympic gold medal match as six-time reigning EURO Champs Germany take on Sweden at 2:45 p.m. ET. All matches will be streamed live on ESPN3.