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Denmark 2 (Nadim pen 6, Harder 33)>
Netherlands 4 (Miedema 10,89, Martens 28, Spitse 51)
Denmark 2 (Nadim pen 6, Harder 33)
It was a day to remember for the host nation as the Netherlands were crowned Champions of Europe for the first time after beating Denmark in a pulsating Final in front of a sell out 28,182 in Enschede.
The Dutch had gathered momentum as the tournament had gone along but were pushed all the way by Denmark whose resistance was not broken until very late in the game.
Holland made early forays down both flanks but they were to be stunned with five minutes on the clock as Sanna Troelsgaard reacted quickest to a loose ball in the area and was brought down by Kike van Es. A penalty was awarded and Nadia Nadim found the top corner with expert precision to send Denmark into an early lead.
Danish joy was to last for just four minutes though, a superb pass down the right from Jackie Groenen was latched onto by Shanice van de Sanden who sped away from Cecilie Sandvej before her low cross was tucked home from six yards by Vivienne Miedema.
Shortly afterwards, a carbon copy almost led to a second Dutch goal, this time van de Sanden's centre picked out Lieke Martens at the far post but Stine Lykke Petersen was able to save at the second attempt.
Much of Denmark's best play was coming via captain Pernille Harder and a brilliant turn took her away from Desiree van Lunteren on the touchline, but no team mate was on hand to turn in her resulting cross.
Play was flowing from end to end at hectic pace and it was no surprise when the next goal came just before the half hour. It was the Dutch who took the lead for the first time, van Lunteren's pass finding Martens on the edge of the area where she spun and hit an accurate shot beyond the dive of Petersen and into the far corner.
Denmark's response was swift; Troelsgaard's defence splitting pass released Nadim on goal but Sari van Veenendaal came to her side's rescue with a vital save. However there was nothing she could do on 33 minutes as Maja Kildemoes' pass released Harder with a perfectly timed run down the right, she then cut inside a challenge from Anouk Dekker before unleashing a left footed snap shot which beat a wrong footed van Veenendaal at her near post. Remarkably, this was the supremely talented playmaker's first goal of the tournament.
With their tails up, Denmark finished the half strongly with Katrine Veje bringing out a save from van Veenendaal but the whistle went with the score level at 2-2 and everybody was able to take a breather.
The second half began with both teams still intent on attack and there was to be another early goal. After Danielle van de Donk was brought down on the edge of the area, Sherida Spitse sidefooted her shot past a static Petersen and into the corner of the net, to put the hosts back in front again.
Van Es curled a shot inches wide as the Dutch sought a fourth goal and Denmark were coming under increasing pressure. A Martens cross from the left was only helped on by Stine Larsen at the near post and picked out Miedema whose volley brought out a brilliant point blank save by Petersen to keep her side in the game.
Denmark hit back with Veje turning a shot narrowly past the post after Harder had done well to win the ball and cross. Groenen fired a shot just wide at the other end as the Dutch once again began to take control of matters.
Although they had been pinned back for much of the second half, the Danes needed to press forward to try and take the game into extra time. Their efforts were almost rewarded with seven minutes remaining as a corner was cleared as far as Troelsgaard whose 20-yard volley looked destined for the back of the net but swerved inches wide at the last moment.
Dutch nerves were starting to show as Denmark pressed forward but with two minutes left, a long ball from Spitse picked out Miedema who drew the challenge of Frederikke Thogersen before jinking past her and powering a shot past Petersen for her second goal on the day.
Denmark still did not give up but the game was finally over for them and they deserve a lot of praise, not only for their contribution to a magnificent Final, but also for their best ever performance in the tournament after so many semi final defeats. The Netherlands though are more than worthy winners of the tournament and with so many young, talented players in their ranks, this should not be the last time we see them pick up silverware in the years to come.
Sari van Veenendaal, Desiree van Lunteren (sub Dominique Jansson 57mins), Kike van Es (sub Mandy van den Berg 90mins), Jackie Groenen, Stephanie van der Gragt, Anouk Dekker, Shanice van de Sanden (sub Renate Jansen 89mins), Sherida Spitse, Vivienne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk, Lieke Martens.
Stine Lykke Petersen, Theresa Nielsen, Cecilie Sandvej, Maja Kildemoes (sub Frederikke Thogersen 61mins), Simone Boye Sorensen (sub Line Roddik 77mins), Sofie Pedersen (sub Nanna Christiansen 82mins), Sanne Troelsgaard, Stine Larsen, Nadia Nadim, Pernille Harder, Katrine Veje.
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Penalty! Sanne Troelsgaard about to be brought down by Kike van Es
(middle) Vivienne Miedema thumps home her first half equaliser
(bottom) The present (and future?) is orange...Champions of Europe
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