Following on from a tight first-half, second-half braces from Jill Roord, Stefanie van der Gragt and Vivianne Miedema was more than enough as the Netherlands cruised to their first win of the year.
Holland looked to set the pace immediately, the Romanian team unable to stop Lieke Martens’ mazy run down the left flank her run stopped at the last before she could do real damage. The resulting corner easily met by Kelly Zeeman, her header just wide but landing awkwardly put paid to her game just two minutes in and was soon replaced by Stefanie van der Gragt.
The match continued in the same vein, Holland keen to get forward and Romania stretched to cover, the Dutch front free encouraged to get forward and try their hand but with yellow shirts sitting deep they were routinely second to the ball. A few driven efforts from Sherida Spitse and Jackie Groenen had the keeper on the toes but weren’t enough to trouble the net.
Happy to sit and break, their counter attack paying dividends as Florentina Olar pounced on a loose back-pass from van der Gragt before rounding Angela Christ and rolling the ball into the waiting net. Undeterred by conceding, Netherlands went right back to work, pressing the midfield and defence, still looking for real gaps, their best option holding the line before having Lineth Beerensteyn break beyond. Still the Romanian back line stayed resolute, willing to make the last-ditch tackles and body-blocks that win games.
Shot from outside the box were still all Holland could muster as the half neared its’ completion, Jeslynn Kuijpers’ shot five minutes from time another that was on target but lacked venom or placement. Spitse’s low free kick from 19 yards equally lacked the edge to trouble Andreea Părăluță. However, the Dutch were handed a deserved equaliser when Twente’s Beerensteyn found enough space in the box to lash her effort into the far top corner, Romania’s number one finally beaten on the stroke of half-time.
Kuijpers’ snap-shot deep in stoppage time forced another save from Părăluță, but once again the effort was too close to the Atleti woman and the two went in at the break all square.
With a healthy three half-time substitutions, Holland looked to force the issue, and it took seconds for fresh legs to tell on the pitch, given time and space to run into with the ball on her toe Jill Roord wrapped her foot around the ball and sent it curling beyond the keeper and into the back of the net.
The young Twente star was keen to make her presence felt and swiftly added another goal, first to the loose ball in the box with the keeper having weakly parried Martens' effort. Jonny on the spot seconds later to add a third that dropped to her boot although the flag was hastily hoisted into the air for a correct offside decision.
Completely out of sorts, Romania struggled to regain their defensive footing and were pushed back once more when van der Gragt nodded the ball beyond the beaten keeper at a corner.
Having been shaken out of place, there was little Romania could do to find their footing in the game again, yellow shirts pushed back against their own goal but no of their own volition, the team sluggish to find a counter. The fouls that had dogged the first-half were littering the second, the wet, cut up pitch doing nothing to help either on the end of any challenge. A late one just outside the Romanian box gave Spitse another chance to whip the ball in, a flood of bodies in the box rushed for it but van der Gragt was once again first to it, as she placed it beyond the reach of Părăluță.
With the Romanian Superliga having started their winter break a month before the Dutch Eredivisie it would have been hard to explain the lack of match fitness as to why Tricolorii started to flag so heavily. But without the ball there was little the home side could do as Sarina Wiegman went to her bench time and again, bringing on fresh attacking legs. Eshly Bakker, Roord and Vivianne Miedema, all more than happy to run at the tired team, Martens and Groenen ceasing to tire in endeavours either.
Those in yellow were pushed and pulled left then right, the pitch opening up for the team in blue as everyone started to flock forward, keen to put daylight between the two.
Having already put five beyond Părăluță, the Dutch showed no remorse as Miedema fired a sixth past the forlorn goalkeeper, her low effort evading all in the area to punch into the back of the net. With nothing but stoppage time left and Romania fully done there was still time for 20 year-old Miedema to heap on more misery, slotting the ball home after an effortless one-two between Groenen and Roord
Starting as they mean to go on
The first-half hadn’t been the best from Holland but a shuffle at the break and an honest word from their coach over half-time had been enough to catalyse the team, the tempo upped after the break, her attacking substitutes hungry blood on the pitch. The better known names in the Dutch squad came up trumps once more but the overall team performance was a strong one, clear partnerships on the pitch and understanding between the players vital for the team.
Whilst it’s true Romania slumped back after Roord’s quick-fire brace it’s easy to imagine the same Dutch team playing as smoothly against higher ranked opposition, the match not a great litmus test for the Euros this summer but a firm footing to start the year on.