From Leigh Sports Village - Netherlands secured their first win of Euro 2022 after edging a five-goal thriller against Portugal, with Danielle van de Donk scoring a spectacular winner after the Portuguese had come from 2-0 down back to 2-2 for the second game in a row.
Damaris Egurrola and Stefanie van der Gragt both netted from corners for a lead that should have been comfortable for the Dutch. But goals from Carole Costa and Diana Silva either side of half-time threatened to make things uncomfortable until the winner eventually came.
Portugal showed in the second half against Switzerland that they aren’t here to make up the numbers and made a bright start. They even had the ball in the net early through Ana Borges, only for the celebrations to fall flat when an offside flag ruled it out.
But football is cruel and it was only moments later when Egurrola met Sherida Spitse’s corner. Netherlands could have quickly doubled their lead but Ines Pereira spectacularly parried the ball over from Lineth Beerensteyn after she beat the Portuguese defence for pace through the middle.
While Portugal were competing in open play, set-pieces were their downfall. They were unable to clear another corner and Van der Gragt was willing to stick her head where it hurts to double the lead. That knocked the stuffing out of Portugal, allowing the Dutch to take some control.
Only a goal-line clearance denied Netherlands a third corner goal, with Costa in the right place at the right time to stop Van der Gragt getting her second.
A third goal would have killed the contest, but already a hero for keeping Portugal in it, Costa stepped up to convert from the penalty spot almost immediately to make it 2-1. It needed a VAR check, but Diana Silva was tripped by Dominique Janssen.
The momentum carried into the second half. Daphne van Domselaar’s fingertips preserved the Dutch lead, but only briefly when Diana Silva met Costa’s cross from the right. That hard work to get back level threatened to be undone when Jill Roord put the ball in the net, but once again VAR intervened in Portugal’s favour to identify an offside that was missed in real time.
Netherlands arguably needed a moment of magic to stem the growing Portuguese tide and they got it when Van de Donk picked out the far top corner from outside the penalty area. Pereira dived but couldn’t get near it as the ball rippled the back of the net.
Portugal were still going for it right until the very end, but Netherlands held off the late fight.
1. Netherlands (4-3-3)
GK: Daphne van Domselaar - 6/10 - Perhaps moved too early on the penalty. Made an outstanding save immediately before Portugal got their second.
RB: Lynn Wilms - 5/10 - Had a much better time of it than Olislagers on the other side, but didn't face the same intense threat.
CB: Stefanie van der Gragt - 6/10 - Took a whack for her trouble when she bravely doubled her team's lead. Disappointed to concede twice.
CB: Dominique Janssen - 5/10 - Made enough contact with Diana Silva to bring her down - VAR ensured she couldn't get away with it.
LB: Marisa Olislagers - 4/10 - Given a really hard time by Jessica Silva. Beaten too many times. Withdrawn with almost half an hour left.
CM: Sherida Spitse (c) - 7/10 - A combative force in open play, but it was her corners that caused Portugal the most problems.
CM: Jill Roord - 6/10 - Pushed really high up to the point where she was often a second striker. Netted but it was disallowed.
CM: Damaris Egurrola - 8/10 - Scored the early opener with her head and was strong in the air generally. Passed it well.
RF: Danielle van de Donk - 8/10 - Showed a lot of positional versatility and maturity. Covered at right-back in play too, while her goal was incredible.
ST: Lineth Beerensteyn - 6/10 - Her pace through the middle was an obvious threat in the first half. Portugal dealt with it better after that.
LF: Lieke Martens - 6/10 - Got the assist for Van de Donk, albeit a simple lay-off, but too much on the periphery for a meaningful impact overall.
SUB: Kerstin Casparij (63' for Olislagers) - 5/10
SUB: Victoria Pelova (70' for Egurrola) - 6/10
SUB: Esmee Brugts (83' for for Martens) - N/A
2. Portugal (4-3-3)
GK: Ines Pereira - 6/10 - Alert to the danger of Beerensteyn's pace and was quick to rush off her line a few times. Unlucky to concede this many.
RB: Catarina Amado - 7/10 - Admirably coped with the threat of Martens. Even started to get forward more in the second half.
CB: Diana Gomes - 6/10 - Got more of a handle on Beerensteyn as the game progressed. Not commanding enough for those first half corners.
CB: Carole Costa - 8/10 - Cleared off the line to keep Portugal in it at 2-0, moments before halving the deficit with a composed penalty. She then assisted the equaliser at 2-2.
LB: Joana Marchao - 5/10 - Didn't have to face a typical winger in Van de Donk. Came off disappointingly early.
CM: Andreia Norton - 7/10 - Portugal's best midfielder for the second game running. The one most likely to make bursts forward.
CM: Dolores Silva (c) - 6/10 - Put in a solid shift.
CM: Tatiana Pinto - 6/10 - Didn't see loads of the ball but worked hard to give those in front or her a platform.
RF: Jessica Silva - 8/10 - Impressed again, putting the Dutch defence under pressure. Her marker was subbed off with nearly half an hour left.
ST: Diana Silva - 8/10 - Won the penalty after she was upended following a darting run. Scored the second Portuguese goal herself.
LF: Ana Borges - 5/10 - Struggled to have as much attacking impact as the two Silvas. Ended up at left-back when Nazareth came on.
SUB: Fatima Pinto ( 65' for Do. Silva) - 6/10
SUB: Kika Nazareth (65' for Marchao) - 6/10
SUB: Vanessa Marques (86' for T. Pinto) - N/A
SUB: Carolina Mendes (86' for Di. Silva) - N/A