The goals flowed with ease as the two Group A teams clashed for the second time this tournament, the Netherlands, backed by a strong home-crowd imperious at home, besting Denmark for the second time this summer.
With the 30,000 strong crowd behind them, the Netherlands pressed the ball from the off, both teams clearly fired up for the occasion, the Oranje marched forward as Denmark were pinned back, just about coping.
One swift move saw Katrine Veje chase onto a long ball ahead of Desiree van Lunteren, a touch outside the box saw for Nadia Nadim but the Thorns attacker miscue. In attacking in numbers, Sanne Troelsgaard chased onto the ball in the box, a lazy leg from Kika van Es left her on the deck as referee, Esther Staubli hastily pointed to the spot. With no replays of the incident in the stadium, the crowd were left to hoot and whistle as Nadim stepped up and buried her spot kick into the back of the net.
The lead was however, shot-lived as the hosts charged forward again, a neat ball from midfield set Shanice van de Sanden away, Cecilie Sandvej left flagging as she raced ahead and fed the ball in. Vivianne Miedema got the better of Simone Boye in the box, her clinical finishing instincts showing as she slammed the ball home from close range.
Sherida Spitse’s direct free kick from 25-yards was no trouble for Stina Lykke as she claimed low, the hosts refusing to let up, the Kolding number one called back into action moments later to parry Lieke Martens’ effort. Sari van Veenendaal in a similar boat minutes later as Pernille Harder fed a weak ball in from a deadball, the delivery way too far in front of her teammates.
The noise in the stadium rose every time the Netherlands got forward, anything long for van de Sanden to chase exciting the crowd, the makeshift Danish defence looking increasingly less stable. The third goal arrived before the half hour, Martens able to pick out the bottom corner from outside the box, orange and white camped in one third, so much still coming down the right flank for the hosts.
The goal to see them lead for the first time in the match only served to get the crowd back on their feet, noise emanating from every corner of De Grolsch Veste, the odd chorus of “DENMARK, DENMARK!” starting up when Harder and Nadim had something to go at. A recycled ball from Boye had Nadim slip in behind and take a touch to get past van Veenendaal but all too heavy as she had to recover by the by-line. The chance already gone. “DENMARK!” soon dissolved into “NETHERLANDS, NETHERLANDS!” with another long ball to test the away defence.
From a long ball that bypassed one side of the midfield to the other as inexplicably Denmark restored parity, the fourth goal of the game scored just 33 minutes in. Harder on hand to chase the ball down with the back-line appealing for offside, a little shimmy outside the box saw the Wolfsburg woman create the space before nicking the ball inside of the near post.
With both defences clearly leaky the following minutes were nervy, even the crowd restrained, four first-half goals in a major final unheard of. With the tension in the stadium rising it was the visitors who fell into stride, riding the wave to push forward, another set-piece from Harder left her teammates wanting as it slipped over.
The poor defending continued after the break, Denmark wasteful at an early corner before Spitse quickly gave the hosts the lead again. A soft foul outside the box brought about another dead ball opportunity, the captain more than happy to roll the ball across the turf and into the bottom corner.
The pressure continued to mount and a failed clearance from Lykke had the crowd in full voice again, Miedema too quick for the Dane, van Es’ eventual shot a hopeful one that curled wide. Seeing increasingly more of the ball, the Dutch continued to stride forward, a certain second goal for Miedema impressively saved by Lykke.
A substitution saw the visitors temporarily calm down, a handful of forays forward giving van Veenendaal something to think about, Veje’s volley just wide before Frederikke Thøgersen failed to capitalise on a poor punch at a corner.
The game began to slow as it drew to its’ conclusion, the Dutch not as able to get forward so freely but an injury to Simone Boye left Denmark forced to make a change, all three of their centre-backs picking up injuries throughout the tournament. A goal to the good as facing a centre-back paring of a 21-year-old striker and a 29-year-old defender who plies her trade at full-back (and was benched for this game following a handful of wonky performances) the Dutch began to grow in confidence again.
Even still, every time the Dutch attacked, the Danes managed to repel and counter, time fast running out. The crowd roaring every time the ball got near the Danish box. The game put to bed by Miedema as she found space behind and slammed the ball into the waiting net, cutting into the near post. The first-half of stoppage time spent largely in the Netherlands’ half, before the victorious orange shirts streaked forward once again, looking for the cherry ontop the icing. The game already over, all that was left was for the hosts to lift their hard-earned trophy.