Women's Euro 2017: 5 big talking points from Netherlands 3-0 England
Huge disappointment for the Lionesses as the Dutch hosts score three times to put England out at the semi-final stage
The Netherlands became the first host nation to reach the final of the European Championships since Germany in 2001 after overcoming England in a surprise 3-0 win that sent the favourites for the competition going into the semi-finals, out.
Goals from Arsenal pair Vivianne Miedema and Danielle van de Donk as well as an own goal from Millie Bright sent the Dutch through to their first ever major final, where they will face Denmark, who overcame Austria on penalties.
Here are five talking points from the match.
1. The Dutch turned up in their biggest ever match
While England will have been favourites for this match due to their big game experience and superior world ranking, the pressure on a home nation once they get to the latter stages is huge.
Over 27,000 people packed into the home of FC Twente, and the noise when the teams entered the field, was deafening. You would have understood if the pressure was just too much for the inexperienced Dutch, but they didn’t let the occasion get to them.
They continued the theme of playing quick on the counter, and while defensively they had some nervy moments, they were the first team to prevent England and Jodie Taylor scoring in the tournament. With the Dutch men’s side currently struggling, Sunday’s final will be a welcome boost to football fans in Holland.
2. Fara Williams replacing Jill Scott
England's record caps holder started alongside fellow midfielder Jade Moore due to the suspension of the tireless Jill Scott. Williams is a completely different type of player, with her role predominately to sit in front of the back four and help her side keep possession.
No doubt Mark Sampson selected her to deal with the creativity of the Dutch midfield, while also utilising her array of passing. The call was an interesting one with many expecting Jordan Nobbs to drop deeper and Izzy Christiansen or Karen Carney coming into the wide area.
Williams was unable to influence the game as much as Scott would have, and ultimately it was her error at he back that let in Danielle van de Donk for the Netherlands’ second goal. She was replaced not long after and it might be the last we see of the experienced midfielder.
3. England's full-backs vs Dutch wingers
One of the most anticipated battles of the tournament so far was arguably the player of the tournament so far, Lieke Martens, coming up against one of the world’s finest right-backs in Lucy Bronze. While on the other side, Demi Stokes was always going to be tested by Liverpool’s speedster, Shanice van de Sanden.
With Bronze so dominant against her opponents this competition, the Dutch worked the ball through more central areas, and when choosing to go wide, looked in the direction of Van de Sanden.
But their forward play was dynamic and for the first time this tournament, England’s back four was asked questions. In large parts, Mark Sampson’s defence coped well. But it was from a wide area that Vivianne Miedema’s header came from, thanks to a cross from the impressive Jackie Groenen - once of Chelsea.
4. The Netherlands midfield three
Much has been made of the Dutch attack, but in behind them is a midfield three that has been consistent, well balanced and a big influence on why the side has been able to get to reach the final.
Danielle van der Donk, Sherida Spitse and Jackie Groenen benefited from the absence of Jill Scott as they moved the ball around well in the middle of the park, but also supported their backline well when out of possession.
With the first goal coming early in the first half, the Dutch had periods of pressure that required the trio to abandon the attacking play we have seen from them during the tournament, and adopt a more disciplined, physical approach to match England’s athleticism. The second goal, which came against the run of play, essentially killed the game, with the third being a cruel blow to England.
5. Close penalty calls
There were two calls in the first half that left England manager Mark Sampson fuming when challenges on Jodie Taylor and Ellen White in the box were not punished.
The Taylor one was the correct call, but the jury is out on the challenge on White.
The clearest call came in the second half, when Lucy Bronze was bundled over in the box, but on a night where little went for England, the appeals were waved away.
The referee was not a popular figure for Sampson, who ripped the back of his shirt when throwing his arms in the air over a decision that left him incensed, and summed up England’s night.
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