The Netherlands opened their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign with a late, late win over New Zealand as a Jill Roord header in stoppage time broke the hearts of the Oceania champions.
The European champions have now joined Canada at the top of Group E, after both teams won their competition openers with the identical score of 1-0.
It was the classic match where the team with most quality in its roster, in this case the Dutch, enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but were finding it difficult to break down their opponents.
New Zealand, for their part, parked two buses at the back but while they were tactically very organised, as you can expect by a side coached by former Orlando Pride coach Tom Sermanni, they were also a threat on the break forcing the Dutch custodian to come to the rescue for her side.
The moment New Zealand, also known as Football Ferns were playing for a draw, the less likely they were going to get it and it was the moment the Dutch punished them with Roord’s header.
Canada play New Zealand next, this Saturday.
Here’s a few things we learned from the game between New Zealand and the Netherlands:
What we learned
- Erin Nayler - leader between the sticks:
Erin Nayler, New Zealand’s custodian, will be defending Bordeaux’ goal in Ligue 1 in the 2019/2020 campaign.
The send-off friendly against England and the World Cup opener against the Netherlands underlined her excellent goalkeeping.
One of the leaders for the Football Ferns as her communication and ability on the field transcends security in the entire New Zealand environment.
She was forced to produce two important saves against the Dutch but ultimately could not deny them from scoring the winning goal.
- Ria Percival, Sarah Gregorious - New Zealand’s most active players:
Ria Percival boasts enormous work ethic in the middle of the park. You can find New Zealand’s number 2 anywhere, from helping at the back, bridging the midfield with the attack or exploiting spaces upfront.
She was constantly at the heart of New Zealand’s few breaks having a successful pass completion of 63%.
On the other hand, Sarah Gregorious is the team’s main threat up front and although attacking on breaks is not always the ideal way to threaten, New Zealand’s forward can easily transform these transitions into goal.
She had two opportunities to put her side ahead but could not slot the ball past the Netherlands’ goalkeeper, like she did when she helped the Football Ferns beat England in their final pre-World Cup friendly.
- Danielle van de Donk - room for improvement:
She may not have stamped her mark on this game, but Danielle van de Donk is one of the masterminds of the Netherlands.
The Arsenal midfielder, with whom she won the Women’s Super League this season after an absence of seven years, is constantly connecting and spraying balls to the flanks or upwards — the 75% pass completion underlines that.
DVD can also be a threat when she edges closer towards the eighteen-yard box. Definitely more to come from her in this tournament.
- Lieke Martens - Netherlands’ dagger:
Lieke Martens is so good to watch pic.twitter.com/LWRTV2zZs7— Danny Cloake (@DannyCloake) June 11, 2019
If you are not familiar with her, she was named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2017 after propelling her side to the 2017 Women’s Euro success on home soil.
She is currently on the books of Barcelona, whom she helped reach the Women’s Champions League final this season — lost against Lyon 4-1 in Budapest.
Lieke Martens can play anywhere from the first third of the field onwards — her pace, vision and skills enable her to feel comfortable in any part of the field.
She is most dangerous when she has the ball and actes of space ahead of her, where she can take anyone and anything and rule the world basically.