Netherlands maintain their perfect start
After the Netherlands’ 1-0 win over Norway in their 2017 European Championship opener, Lieke Martens said the team was off to the perfect start. The Dutch women’s national team has now extended that perfect start to two matches after defeating Denmark, 1-0, off a first-half Sherida Spitse penalty. The result put the host nation comfortably atop the Group A standings and prevented Norway from being eliminated altogether.
The match was an intensely competitive one from the get go, and Denmark’s physicality got the better of them multiple times throughout the match. The most costly came in the 19th minute when Nanna Christiansen clipped Danielle van de Donk’s left ankle, sending her tumbling inside the box and the Netherlands to the spot for a penalty kick. Danish keeper Stina Lykke Petersen guessed the right direction, but Spitse sent a laser into the bottom left corner that Petersen was unable to get a hand. The penalty would go on to be the game-winning goal.
With another sold-out home crowd to spur them on, the Netherlands controlled the first half, outpacing and outmaneuvering their opponent. However, knowing that a win would see them advance as Group A leaders, Denmark began to swing the momentum in their favor as they became the stronger of the two attacking sides in the second half. Nadia Nadim, Pernille Harder and Sanne Troelsgaard had a number of solid opportunities, but Dutch netminder Sari van Veenendaal came to her team’s rescue to deny each of the Danish chances, walking away after the final whistle with another clean sheet.
As Denmark got increasingly frustrated in their search for an equalizer, the fouls increased, and two players were shown yellow cards. Maja Kildemoes’ booking was her second of the tournament, and as a result she will be suspended for Denmark’s final group match.
Belgium hand Norway second straight defeat
Following a scoreless opening half, Norway made a brighter start to the second but fell victim to a pair of glaring defensive blunders. A sweet buildup by Belgium led to Davina Philtjens putting a cross into the box for Tessa Wullaert. Ingrid Hjelmseth had an easy save but spilled it, and Elke Van Gorp was in the right place to clean up the mess. Her 59th-minute goal was Belgium’s first ever at the European Championships.
Eight minutes later, Norway’s fate was sealed by an even worse defensive blunder. Laura Deloose took an attacking throw-in that Nora Hulstad Berge was unable defend with her jump. No one filled the space in behind, the ball was allowed to bounce freely and eventually Janice Cayman was gifted a free header at the top of the 6. Cayman’s goal made it 2-0 for the Red Flames and appeared to deflate Norway the rest of the way.
All four teams can still advance to the quarterfinals based of the results of their final group stage matches. Those matches take place Monday, July 24 with Norway and Denmark facing off while the Netherlands face Belgium. Both matches kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on ESPN3.
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