GTR MANCHESTER: Danielle van de Donk’s spectacular strike secured the Netherlands their first victory of the Women’s Euro 2022 after they had blown a two-goal lead against Portugal.
Van de Donk’s 62nd-minute thunderbolt from 20 yards will go down as one of the goals of the tournament, the show-stopper in a riveting Group C game that saw the Netherlands claim a 3-2 win at Leigh Sports Village.
The Netherlands, who drew their opener against Sweden last weekend, were initially on the charge despite the Covid-enforced absence of star striker Vivianne Miedema as headers from Damaris Egurrola and Stefanie van der Gragt put them 2-0 ahead.
Having come from two goals down to draw against Switzerland, Portugal were at it once more as Carole Costa’s penalty and Diana Silva’s header either side of half-time drew them level.
But Van de Donk ultimately had the final say, with the defending champions moving level with Sweden on four points while Portugal sit alongside Switzerland on one.
On the day she made her 146th international appearance to become Portugal’s most capped player, Ana Borges toe-poked home early on but celebrations were immediately halted by offside in the build-up.
Instead, Portugal found themselves in a familiar position after shipping two early goals, with a corner to the near post finding Egurrola, whose glancing header looped in at the far corner.
Portugal were once again undone at a set-piece as another corner was only half-cleared, with Lieke Martens’ drive deflected into the path of Van der Gragt to head beyond Ines Pereira.
An unmarked Van de Donk saw her side-footed volley drift wide while Costa cleared off the line as the one-way traffic continued, but soon after Portugal were given a lifeline.
Diana ghosted past Dominique Janssen in the area before stumbling over and a lengthy check with the video assistant referee indicated the Portuguese forward had taken a decisive knock to her trailing ankle.
Carole made no mistake with the 38th-minute spot-kick, unsettling the Dutch, who were sluggish at the start of the second half, with Daphne van Domselaar brilliantly tipping over Tatiana Pinto’s header.
While the corner was cleared, the Netherlands’ defenders were still out of position and Carole’s cross from the right allowed Diana to steal in ahead of Van der Gragt and head Portugal level after 47 minutes.
Jill Roord looked to have restored Holland’s lead just a couple of minutes later after slamming low into the net but VAR ruled out the goal for the tightest of offsides.
There would be no denying the Netherlands as they reclaimed the lead in some style, with Van de Donk’s curling effort from just outside the area sailing into the top corner despite the outstretched dive of Ines.
Swedes win, too
The other group match saw Sweden beat Switzerland 2-1.
After a cagey opening half, Fridolina Rolfo put Sweden ahead eight minutes into the second-half, but Switzerland immediately pulled one back two minutes later through Ramona Bachmann.
Hanna Bennison’s winner moved Sweden top of Group C for a couple of hours but the Netherlands later climbed above them on goals scored.
Sweden were given a scare nine minutes into the game when Switzerland were awarded a penalty for a foul but, after consulting the pitchside monitor, the referee overturned her decision.
Rolfo was causing problems for the Swiss and whipped in a menacing cross that Kosovare Asllani was unable to reach, before having a chance herself but the shot was well blocked.
Bachmann had an opportunity half-an-hour into the game, running into plenty of space but her shot was easily held by Hedvig Lindahl at the near post.
Rolfo came close straight after the break when her effort just missed the top corner and Stina Blackstenius threatened soon after in a one-on-one with Gaelle Thalmann, but the goalkeeper did well to save.
The early pressure paid off for Sweden when Rolfo put them in front, finding space on the left and tucking the ball into the bottom left corner.
Switzerland responded immediately from the restart as Sweden were unable to clear the danger in the box and the ball found Bachmann on the edge of the area, who hit a sweet curling shot into the top corner.
Switzerland continued to make the most of their chances and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic had a low effort that forced Lindahl to react, tipping the ball away with a low dive to her right.
But Bennison’s incredible strike gave Sweden a precious victory, smashing the ball home from outside the box.
Sweden nearly added a third in the 87th minute when Rebecka Blomqvist found the bottom corner, but the goal was ruled out for offside.