By AFP Sport
Last Updated: 16/07/17 10:28pm
Shanice van de Sanden celebrates her goal for the Netherlands
The Netherlands and Denmark got their Women’s European Championship campaigns off to winning starts with 1-0 wins against Norway and Belgium respectively.
Shanice van de Sanden’s bullet header handed hosts the Netherlands a 1-0 win against Norway in the opening match at the Galgenwaard Stadium in Utrecht.
The Liverpool winger capitalised on a superb cross from Lieke Martens from the left wing that found her face-to-face with helpless Norway keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth.
The Dutch were on the front foot throughout the game, with Martens and Arsenal striker Anna Miedema a constant threat.
Miedema was denied twice by Hjelmseth early into the game as the keeper first cleared her shot in the first minute following a cross from van de Sanden, then tipped another over the bar ten minutes later.
Elise Thorsnes and Shanice van de Sanden compete during the opening fixture
Miedema, who turned 21 on Saturday, sent two shots wide after half-time, then another five minutes from the end.
Norway, the runners-up at the last Euros in 2013, had a good chance in the second minute when Kristine Minde chipped the ball over Dutch keeper Sari van Veenendaal but failed to find the goal.
Van Veenendaal then stopped Caroline Graham’s effort and that was just about all Norway had to offer.
Their attempt to put the hosts under pressure in the final minutes failed as in a rare scoring chance, Lyon striker Ada Hederberg missed the ball at the post in stoppage time.
In Doetinchem, Sanne Troelsgaard spoiled Belgium’s European Championship debut as she headed home on just six minutes after Belgian keeper Justien Odeurs had tipped a free kick into the crossbar.
Denmark’s midfielder Sanne Troelsgaard nods home the only goal of the game
Denmark dominated the first half after the early goal and Nadia Nadim almost made it 2-0, but her two shots were blocked by the Belgian defence – the second one appeared to be with an arm but no penalty was awarded.
Belgium stepped up their pressure after the break, but Janice Cayman flicked Maud Coutereels’s header into Danish goalkeeper Stina Petersen’s hands, before she also stopped a low shot from Tessa Wullaert,.
Janice Cayman of Belgium and Line Roddik Hansen of Denmark tussle during the match
Belgium came closest to scoring just before the full-time whistle when Danish defender Simone Boye deflected Wullaert’s free-kick onto the crossbar with a header.
But the Danish managed to hold out to take all three points in their opening Group A fixture, where the four teams are next in action on Thursday.