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Hosts Netherlands got their Women’s Euro 2017 campaign off to a successful start with a deserved win over Norway.
Liverpool’s Shanice van de Sanden scored the only goal, heading in Lieke Martens’ pin-point cross from close range after 66 minutes.
Netherlands could have opened the scoring in the opening 30 seconds, but Ingrid Hjelmseth kept out a shot from Arsenal’s Danielle van de Donk.
Chelsea’s Maren Mjelde came close with a free-kick, Norway’s best effort.
The 2013 finalists were second best throughout against a Dutch side helped by a boisterous home following in Utrecht. The crowd of 21,732 at the Stade Galgenwaard was a record for a women’s football match in the Netherlands.
Sarina Wiegman’s side had plenty of chances, the best of which fell to Rosengard’s Martens, who forced Hjelmseth into a fine save, while Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema dragged an effort wide.
Norway striker Ada Hegerberg, the current BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, barely got a kick during the match and was largely kept quiet by the Dutch defence.
The most presentable chance fell to her with a minute remaining, but her deflected strike was easy for Arsenal goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.
‘The King came to see us’
Netherlands forward Shanice van de Sanden said: “A dream came true today. I played in my home city, I was born two minutes from the stadium and my whole family was in the stands.
“This is the first game so we can enjoy it but we have to calm down and focus on the next game.
“My whole team played really well and it was nice to score the goal in this stadium. We win together but I like to steal the show. With all the people in the stands, everyone in orange, it was amazing.
“The King of Netherlands came to see us in the locker room after and said a few words. That was pretty cool.”
Former England and Everton defender Lindsay Johnson:
It is so important for you to get the three points in the first game, but the performance from the Netherlands was fantastic too.
They have shown the rest of the group they are not here just because they are the hosts, they can play too.
With the crowd behind them, it is going to be tough to break them down.
The whole built-up to the goal was fantastic. Lieke Martens looked up and found Shanice van de Sander, who finished off the cross with a header into the bottom corner.
BBC Sport’s Alistair Magowan in Utrecht:
Norway might have a greater pedigree but they were outplayed by a more vigorous and effervescent Netherlands side, who gave the tournament a perfect lift-off in front a record crowd.
The margin of victory appeared slim, and the Dutch should have been out of sight based on the number of chances they created and missed with Arsenal forward Vivianne Miedema most culpable.
But in Lieke Martens and goalscorer Shanice van de Sanden, they have two potential stars of the tournament. On either flank, they simply destroyed the Norwegian defence.
When Van de Sanden broke down in tears at the final whistle, the pressure of performing in an opening game as a host nation was clear to see. They might not be hot favourites but with a buoyant crowd behind them, they can certainly challenge.
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