The Netherlands have one foot in the quarter-final of Euro 2022 after beating Portugal 3-2 in a roller coaster game in Group C.
The reigning champions, without four of their best players, surrendered a two-goal lead before Danielle van de Donk scored a wonder goal to finally see off their resilient opponents.
Dutch boss Mark Parsons was forced to make changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Sweden after he lost his goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal and centre-back Aniek Nouwen to injury, while star players Jackie Groenen and Vivianne Miedema had tested positive for Covid-19.
Despite the upheaval, Netherlands took an early lead with Damaris Egurrola, on her first start in the competition, taking full advantage of the opportunity with a superb header.
It was deja-vu for Portugal as they conceded two early goals, just like they did in their 2-2 draw with Switzerland, as they were undone by another corner, Stefanie van der Gragt heading home after a string of defensive mistakes.
Remarkably, the Netherlands almost scored from a hat-trick of corners as the excellent Sherida Spitse picked out Van der Gragt once more only this time Carole Costa intervened, clearing her effort off the line.
As chaotic as Portugal were defensively, they offered a real threat in attack and when Diana Silva was upended by Dominique Janssen inside the box, they were handed a chance to finally get on the scoresheet. Costa stepped up confidently to halve the deficit and with the momentum now behind them, Portugal piled the pressure on. From being in a position of control, the Oranje were suddenly relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
But Portugal made a blistering start to the second half, restoring parity just a minute after the whistle was blown, with Silva heading home from a cross – fighting back from two goals down for the second game in succession.
Jill Roord thought she had restored the Netherlands’ lead with a powerful shot from inside the box, but after a lengthy VAR check, the goal was disallowed as Lineth Beerensteyn was ruled marginally offside.
It took a moment of magic from Van de Donk to win the Netherlands the match, the Lyon attacker leaving goalkeeper Ines Pereira with no chance with a scorching shot from the edge of the box to put the Netherlands 3-2 up – a goal that was against the run of play somewhat.
The win takes the Dutch level with Sweden on four points, while Portugal and Switzerland have a point apiece ahead of the final group game. The Netherlands have Switzerland on Sunday while Portugal meet Sweden on the same day.
TALKING POINT – DUTCH STARE ADVERSITY IN THE FACE TO PREVAIL
Injuries and Covid-19 have threatened to derail the Netherlands’ hopes of defending their crown, but Mark Parsons was in defiant mood in his pre-match press conference, with the Netherlands boss promising his side wouldn’t be feeling sorry for themselves after a series of setbacks.
And while he may not be happy with some aspects of the performance, he will be pleased by the maturity they have shown to get over the line without four of their best players. Of course, there is much scepticism about whether the Dutch can go all the way again, but this group has shown they have the character to challenge adversity. That alone can take you quite the distance.
For Portugal, Francisco Neto will be bitterly disappointed not to come away with a point, even if he can take many positives. Ultimately, however, it’s going to be a mammoth challenge to progress any further now.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – SHERIDA SPITSE (NETHERLANDS)
The Ajax midfielder’s wicked corner deliveries caused havoc in the Portugal box and ultimately led to the two opening goals.
Netherlands: Van Domselaar 7, Wilms 6, Van der Gragt 7, Janssen 5, Olislagers 6, Spitse 8*, Roord 7, Egurrola 7, Van de Donk 8, Beerensteyn 7, Martens 6.. subs: Casparij 5, Pelova 5, Brugts N/A.
Portugal: Pereira 7, Gomes 5, Carole Costa 6, Marchao 5, Norton 5, Dolores Silva 7, Tatiana Pinto 7, Borges 7, Jessica Silva 7, Diana Silva 7.. subs: Nazareth 5, Marques N.A, Carolina Mendes N/A, Fatima Pinto 5, Pelova 5.
7’ – GOAL! NETHERLANDS 1-0 PORTUGAL (DAMARIS EGURROLA) : This one will count! Handed her first start of the competition, Egurrola rewards her manager with the opening goal! It’s against the run of play as Spitse swings in a corner and Egurrola’s header is unstoppable!
16’ – GOAL! NETHERLANDS 2-0 PORTUGAL (STEFANIE VAN DER GRAGT): Portugal are in huge trouble now! Again, they fail to deal with Spitse’s corner delivery and although they at least partially clear it this time, a shot is deflected into the path of Van der Gragt who instinctively heads it home. A string of errors is punished.
38’- GOAL! NETHERLANDS 2-1 PORTUGAL (CAROLE COSTA): Costa side-foots a cool penalty into the back of the net, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way. Game on!
47’ – GOAL! NETHERLANDS 2-2 PORTUGAL (DIANA SILVA) – There it is – the equaliser! For the second game running, Portugal have fought back from two goals down! Silva with the goal, meeting a cross from the right, and this time there was nothing the Dutch goalkeeper could have done about it.
62’ – GOAL! NETHERLANDS 3-2 PORTUGAL (DANIELLE VAN DE DONK): There’s no doubt about this one – what an effort from Van de Donk to restore Netherlands’ lead! The Dutch No. 10 lets fly with a beauty from the edge of the box and it crashes into the top corner. That’s special enough to win any game!