SOCCER

Romée Leuchter puts the Netherlands in the last eight and eliminates Switzerland | Women’s Euro 2022

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The Netherlands did the job at Bramall Lane in sweltering conditions to secure their progress to the quarter-finals, but despite a 4-1 victory they failed to score enough to top the group and will next face a France at looking dangerous.

The Netherlands needed a draw to progress and were tied until three late goals, including two from substitute Romée Leuchter, secured victory.

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The incumbents were tested early on by the persistent high pressure from Switzerland. Such was the effectiveness of Nils Nielsen’s 4-2-3-1 that Switzerland were able to prevent Lieke Martens, usually a defensive nightmare on the Dutch left flank, from gaining access to the ball.

On the other hand, the Swiss attack easily crossed the opposition midfield, as evidenced by the curling effort of Sandy Maendly in the 12th minute which had to be knocked down by Daphne van Domselaar and also highlighted by the kicks. Ramona Bachmann’s sword on both flanks.

A botched start from the Netherlands fueled Switzerland’s qualification hopes. But what Switzerland failed to take into account was the Netherlands’ second wind – which they have shown in all their performances across the Euros.

Leuchter

As the Netherlands attack regained possession, more passes were passed to Martens and Lineth Beerensteyn. In the 20th minute, Beerensteyn clung to one of these balls. Racing towards Gaëlle Thalmann’s goal, her long legs seemed to tangle with the keeper’s hesitant hands and the referee, Juliana Demetrescu, pointed to the penalty spot.

Moments of VAR inspection later and replays would show the keeper had just been given a glove for the ball. The overturned decision, however, allowed only a brief reprieve before Mark Parsons’ side departed.

First, Jackie Groenen unleashed a volley from close range from a clever set play routine. Then, in the 34th minute, Martens’ looping header was pushed away by Thalmann’s outstretched fingers.

Nielsen’s side would have to summon the same energy after the gap they started the game with to create a change of momentum. However, before they could muster a charge, Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic had headed for her own goal.

Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic heads into her own net to give the Netherlands a 1-0 lead. Photo: Nigel Keene/ProSports/Rex/Shutterstock

The Swiss midfielder tried to clear Stefanie van der Gragt’s header from a corner. Instead, she gave her team the daunting task of having to score twice. However, where there is a will, there is a way, mainly with Bachmann. The striker made her way into the box four minutes later, against Géraldine Reuteler who passed Van Domselaar.

Van Domselaar would be in the thick of the action soon after when she made three saves to keep her side level as the Dutch defense faltered and faltered.

Parsons’ response would be to controversially withdraw experienced forwards Martens and Beerenstyne, along with steadfast defenders Aniek Nouwen and Jill Roord. Perhaps he had his eye on Saturday’s quarter-final and was focused on helping his star players through the 30-degree heat.

The mass exodus didn’t matter. The Netherlands continued their assault on Thalmann’s goal and the Swiss keeper had to make a series of brilliant saves to keep the score at 1-1. It took a decisive Leuchter header from Lynn Wilms’ cross for his goal to be breached again, before the floodgates opened for third and fourth in stoppage time.

Parsons said: “The game against Switzerland was a wild, roller coaster game. Cashing in after half-time is always difficult, but we found our legs and got the game under control.

Victoria Pelova netted the Netherlands’ third goal from close range and her attempt for another shot put Leuchter on top.

Nielsen acknowledged that his side’s defense had been lackluster in the final moments and said: “It was always going to be a tough game against the Netherlands; they’re tournament favorites and we haven’t been sharpened when needed.

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