The Netherlands have kept the home-team dream alive, shutting out England, 3-0, to advance to the 2017 European Championship Final. Both teams came into the contest having won every match leading up to it, but the Lionesses were the heavy favorites entering. However, another strong performance by goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal combined with a strong Dutch attack to lead the Orange to an upset of Mark Sampson’s squad and to their first ever EURO Final.
The Netherlands have had one of the best front threes of the tournament with Lieke Martens, Vivianne Miedema, and Shanice van de Sanden. Jackie Groenen has also been dynamic in the midfield for the Dutch, seemingly to improve with each passing game. Three of those four combined on the opening goal-scoring play, one that began with a great build up from the back. Martens received the ball and moved into the middle of the field before sending a diagonal ball over to Groenen, who then sent in a cross that Miedema took to the air to head past England keeper Siobhan Chamberlain. With the goal Miedema, who had been criticized early in the tournament for her lack of scoring, silenced her critics once more and ignited the sold-out crowd mostly clad in orange.
England immediately cranked up their intensity as they began to look for an equalizer, but a lack of finishing plagued them in the first half as first Fran Kirby, then Steph Houghton, and finally Lucy Bronze all took shots that were off the mark. The Lionesses nearly leveled the score in the 26th minute when midfielder Jade Moore headed a corner kick on frame, but Sherida Spitse was there on the line to redirect the ball off the post and out of danger, the first of two goal-line clearances for her on the day. Her second came in the 88th minute when she kicked Toni Duggan’s low, hard attempt back out into play.
Even if Spitse hadn’t been there to deny Duggan, the goal would have only pulled Lionesses within one, as Danielle van de Donk capitalized on a defensive error by England and scored a second goal for the Netherlands in the 62nd minute. Fara Williams unwisely headed a ball back towards goal, and it bounced inside the area and into space. Both Chamberlain and Van de Donk raced towards the loose ball, but Chamberlain was a split-second too late as Van de Donk chipped the ball over her sliding body and into a wide-open net.
The Lionesses had their fair share of attempts on goal in the second half as well, combining in both halves to outshoot the Orange 20-9 with 10 shots on goal. However, Van Veenendaal had a stellar second half, making a number of impressive saves to earn her another clean sheet. One of England’s best attempts came late in the game when Jodie Taylor, sitting on five goals for the tournament, fired a rocket from close range, only to have Van Veenendaal parry her shot away.
To add insult to injury so to speak, one Lioness did find her way onto the scoresheet, but not the way anyone would have wanted. In the final minute of stoppage time, Martens fired off a shot from just outside the six, and her shot deflected off of defender Millie Bright’s leg and into the goal for an England own goal. A bit of a fitting end for the Lionesses, who put on a rather disappointing display in comparison to that of the Netherlands.
With the win, the Netherlands advance to the 2017 EURO Final, where they will take on former Group A mates Denmark. The Dutch won the two teams’ group stage match, 1-0. The Final will take place on Sunday, August 6 on ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 10:30 a.m. ET.
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