My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
The Netherlands secured victory in their first match in the Women’s World Cup, as New Zealand’s wait for their first three points extended to ten games. The only goal of the game came in the 33rd minute, when Lieke Martens’ outstanding curling effort beat the New Zealand keeper Erin Nayler. It was New Zealand who had the better of the second half, but their tactic of exploiting the Dutch keeper’s small height from corners and crosses never worked out. The result means that New Zealand have to beat Canada in their next match to have any hope of qualifying from their group.
New Zealand had the better of the opening and nervous defending from the Dutch gave Annalie Longo whose shot was blocked. And then Longo had a swerving 25 yard shot saved low down by Loes Geurts.
But then the Netherlands came into the game, and had the ball in the net when Lieke Marterns header sent Danielle van de Donk into the box who lifted the ball over the keeper, but the assistant referee ruled it out for offside.
New Zealand came very close from a free-kick on the left-wing. Ria Percival curled her effort towards the top right corner, but the 168cm tall Dutch keeper Loes Geuerts reacted superbly to claw the ball from danger.
The Dutch came close from a corner where Stefanie van der Gragt headed just wide of the far post.
And then it was New Zealand’s turn to have a goal disallowed from a corner. Ria Percival’s delivery was caught by Geurts before Hannah Wilkinson forced the keeper over the line with an elbow – and the referee had little option but to award the foul.
But then, in the 33rd minute the Netherlands took the lead. Lieke Martens used her first touch to move towards the centre, and her second touch curled the ball around the despairing dive of Erin Nayler and it sailed into the bottom right corner. It was a spectacular way to open Netherlands’ Women’s World Cup account.
The Dutch could have doubled their lead seconds later, but Manon Melis fired over with her first-time effort.
Neither side started the second half with much threat, but the Netherlands looked the likelier team to score. Melis did brilliantly to beat Abi Riley down the right, but her cross was claimed strongly by Nayler.
As the second half became older, the more urgency New Zealand had but most of their threat were coming from corners. One of Percival’s deliveries was delivered deep, but captain Abby Erceg’s shot hit a crowd of players. The next one reached the far post where it looked like Sarah Gregorious was about to score, but the referee had noticed her controlling the ball with her arm. The next one was spilt by Loes Geurts, but the Dutch defence reacted quickly to clear. And in the 76th minute, Percival launched another corner into the box, where Wilkinson headed the ball goalwards but Desiree van Lunteren hooked the ball clear.
Then the ex-Man City midfielder Betsy Hassett beat one player before shooting from distance, but her effort never had the power to trouble Geurts.
With time running out, the Dutch reminded New Zealand of their danger on the counter, with Tessel Middag’s curling effort forcing Nayler into a good save.
And then, deep into second-half stoppage time, New Zealand created a superb chance. Ali Riley broke down the left and curled the ball into the box, where Wilkinson misjudged her header downwards away from Amber Hearn. They recycled the ball to Wilkinson, who had her 25 yards shot blocked.
Woman of the Match
I am going for Lieke Martens, whose wonderful strike won the Dutch all three points. A goal that deserved to win any match.
New Zealand: Erin Nayler, Ria Percival, Abby Erceg (c), Rebekah Stott, Ali Riley, Annalie Longo, Katie Duncan, Katie Bowen (Betsy Hassett 72), Sarah Gregorius (Jasmine Pereria 67), Amber Hearn, Hannah Wilkinson.
Netherlands: Loes Geurts, Desiree van Lunteren, Stefanie van der Gragt, Mandy van den Berg, Petra Hogewoning, Sherida Spitse, Daniëlle van de Donk, Anouk Dekker (Tessel Middag 84), Manon Melis, Vivianne Miedema (Shanice van de Sanden 81), Lieke Martens (Kirsten van de Ven 81).
Goal: Lieke Martens 33
Booked: Daniëlle van de Donk, Lieke Martens.
Referee: Quetzalli Alvarado (Mexico)