The 2017 Women’s European Championship came to a close yesterday in a match that will go down in history as one of the most exciting Women’s Euros Finals ever.
Neither of the finalists (Netherlands and Denmark) had ever won a major tournament, yet found themselves defeating some of the top teams in the world to get to one of the biggest stages in women’s soccer. The Netherlands, besides making history in winning their first-ever European Championship, also did it in front of a home crowd of over 28,000.
Not only was the match historic, it was entertaining. Back and forth scoring that ended in two unanswered goals for the Netherlands gave them a win that will be remembered for all of program history.
Danish Make History: Nadim Towards the Forefront
Nadia Nadim of the Portland Thorns, helped lead Denmark on a historic run to the finals that began when they made it to the quarterfinals after finishing second in their group to qualify. Their first opponent going into the elimination round? Germany.
This was a big task for the Danish in the fact that Germany had won the title of Women’s Euro Champions the most out of any team ever. The Germans had been crowned champions eight out of the eleven times that the tournament took place (which, for the women, began in 1984) going into this year’s Euros. Not to mention that Germany is the 2nd ranked team in the world, with Denmark ranked 15th.
In the larger sense, Denmark can be seen as one of the best women’s teams in the world with a program that is growing rapidly, but going into their quarterfinal game, they were definitely the underdogs. So it was a surprise when Nadim scored to equalize early in the second half, then to have Theresa Nielsen score the game winner late in the 83rd minute to win it for the Danish. And they were off to the semifinals against Austria.
Austria had also gone into their quarterfinal game against Spain as the underdogs, but had won 5-3 in penalty kicks. In this semifinal game that was historic for both teams, it also went into penalty kicks. Denmark was able to advance to the finals after winning 3-0 in the PK’s, with Nadim stepping up first to set the tone and put one away for the Danish. Danish goalkeeper, Stina Lykke Petersen, also played a crucial part in advancing to the finals, as she did not allow a single goal during the shootout.
The Dutch Come in Clutch for Home Fans
The Women’s Euros were hosted by the Netherlands, making their historic run that much more important. Going into the finals, the Netherlands remained undefeated even after facing teams like England and Sweden in the elimination round.
They made sure to put on a show for their home fans during the last game of the tournament, even if it was one that might’ve been a heart-stopper. The Dutch had (almost literally) started off losing when Nadim scored for Denmark off a penalty kick five minutes into the match. The Danish didn’t have much time to take in the lead, though, because Vivianne Miedema was able to tap in a perfect ball from Shanice van de Sanden that began off a quick counter in the 10th minute.
Then the Netherlands scored again in the 28th, when Lieke Martens fired a low left-footed shot from outside the 18-yard box to the bottom corner. Denmark hadn’t given up just yet though, and they answered back with an equalizer in the 33rd minute when Pernille Harder snuck behind the Dutch backline to give herself time and space for a shot into the low right corner of the goal. This allowed the both teams to go into halftime tied at 2-2.
The Netherlands came out of the locker room firing, with their captain, Sherida Spitse, scoring off a free kick. Her low, powerful shot found the bottom right corner of the goal and Petersen barely had time to react. Now leading by one, the Dutch held the Danish attack to a silence, not allowing them to score the entire second half.
To secure their lead, in the 89th minute Miedema scored again. She danced around her defender in the box to give her enough space to fire a low shot near post, right past the hand of Petersen. Despite four minutes of extra time added on towards the end of the game, Miedema’s goal helped seal Holland’s first ever major championship in women’s soccer.